Matt Dempsey (202) 224-9797

David Lungren (202) 224-5642

Opening Statement of Senator James M. Inhofe

Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

Full Committee hearing entitled, "Oversight Hearing on Public Health and Drinking Water Issues."

Wednesday, February 2, 2011, 10:00 am

Thank you, Madam Chairman, for taking the time today to continue our discussions about federal drinking water programs. I know that everyone in this room agrees that clean, safe, affordable drinking water is essential, and should be a national priority.

To carry out this priority effectively, we need resources, but we also need sound policy, based on the best available science.  I feel confident that the recent drinking water report by the Environmental Working Group, which we are focusing on today, does not fall in that category. 

Put simply, the report is biased, and therefore the conclusions are skewed to fit a particular view point.  What's more, the EWG has rejected transparency, one of the fundamental practices of good science.  When city officials from Norman, Oklahoma requested EWG's testing methodology, EWG denied their request.  Without transparency-without the ability of other scientists to replicate your work-you can't have good science. 

Due to the severe snowfall in Oklahoma, Steven Lewis, the City Manager from Norman, was unable to travel to be with us today. Mr. Lewis's testimony, however, can help put some context around the EWG's flawed findings, and help us understand the robust public health protections Norman has in place. He has agreed to answer any follow up questions that the committee may have. I would respectfully request that Mr. Lewis's testimony be included for the record. I also welcome the testimony of Charles Murray, General Manager for the Fairfax County Water Authority, across the river in Virginia.  Mr. Murray will no doubt provide some practical insights into how a local water system is dealing with chromium-6 and other drinking water mandates. 

I also want to make special note to welcome EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.  Administrator, it's good to see you.  I want to thank you for your willingness last year to work with me and my staff on some very difficult issues.  I also want to thank you for your help in passing several key pieces of legislation that were drafted in this committee.  With your help, we passed a bill to reduce lead in drinking water and a bill to provide grants to states to reduce diesel emissions. 

Over the next two years, there will be many contentious issues-and many issues on which we fundamentally disagree.  They include: 

 - Regulating greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act; 

 - The Boiler MACT; 

 - The Utility MACT; 

 - PM Dust; 

 - Ozone; and

 - Hydraulic Fracturing

Yes, we disagree on these issues.  Yet, as we have in the past, let's keep an open line of communication, because there could be areas where we can reach agreement.  The lead bill and the diesel bill are just two examples of what can happen if we do that.

So Administrator Jackson, I wish you all the best as we head into a new Congress.  Thank you for coming today and I look forward to your testimony.

I would also like to extend a warm welcome to the new Republican members of our Committee. Welcome Senator Sessions, Senator Johanns, and Senator Boozman. We are happy to have you on our committee and look forward to working with you this Congress.  And a welcome back to all our returning committee members, Republican and Democrat.

Thank you again, Madam Chairman, for holding this important hearing, and I look forward to hearing from all of our witnesses.