CEI has highlighted the fact that poorly drafted drinking water regulations do more harm than good. In particular, the that greatly increased the stringency of the drinking water rule for arsenic promised no real benefits, but its high cost hurts communities and individuals. It forces communities to abandon important things–like the purchase of fire trucks or more useful upgrades to infrastructure–to pay for a rule that does nothing for them. The rule allows drinking water to contain no more than 10 parts per billion of arsenic. Prior to that, water could contain up to 50 parts per billion. The 50 ppb standard had been in place in the U.S. for decades and there is no evidence of it ever causing a public health problem.
A story in the Star Tribune in Minneapolis St. Paul shows how adverse effects of such needlessly onerous standard can spill over into other areas. In this case, a meat plant had to shut its doors, putting 200 people out of work because their water exceeded EPA’s standard by 8 parts per billion. EPA can’t show that the Clinton era its standard won’t save a soul, but we do know that economic hard times hurt many.