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<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />Washington, D.C., May 21, 2004—Today the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Director of Risk and Environmental Policy Angela Logomasini is testifying before the House Committee on Government Reform of the question of lead in drinking water. Residents of Washington, D.C. were recently bombarded with news reports of unacceptably high levels of lead in the local water system, sparking a concern among federal regulators that other major cities may have similar, as yet undiagnosed, problems.
Logomasini argues that while the D.C. government might not be perfect, they were right about one thing: There was no need to panic about the situation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that the lead levels in the drinking water have not raised the level of lead in anyone’s blood to a level of public health concern. “Yet,” Logomasini noted, “the proposed congressional action may force the city—as well as many others around the nation—into spending millions of dollars changing lead lines when such actions will have little impact on public health. As a result, D.C. and other cities will have fewer resources to address the many more pressing needs, ranging from emergency services, crime control, and education needs of city residents.”
Part of the problem lies in the inflexible mandates in the law. “The notification provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act are too inflexible,” said Logomasini. “Every community must notify the public when violations occur according to Washington dictates on how they must report. But the problem is that these notifications are not educating people. Instead, they are being used to trigger alarm scenarios that are amplified by the media. The resulting crisis mentality is scaring the public needlessly. The end result is ‘crisis’ management-styled policy—which demands a response that is disproportionate to the risks. As a result, communities will likely be forced to pursue more federally determined ‘solutions’ that divert funds from greater concerns,” she explained.
The text of Angela Logomasini’s testimony is available online at www.cei.org .