Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs – July 27th, 2001

In the News…
Public Health and Drinking Water News Briefs

July 27, 2001

President Bush Nominates Microbiologist for USDA Food Safety Position

On July 10th, President Bush announced his intention to nominate Dr. Elsa Murano as Under Secretary for Food Safety at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Murano, a microbiologist, is currently a professor at Texas A&M University and director of its Center for Food Safety in College Station, Texas. She also is a member of the USDA’s National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection. Dr. Murano is an advocate of the use of irradiation to kill food-borne pathogens. The Federal government approved the use of irradiation on meat last year, and is expected to soon decide whether to allow it for precooked meat products, such as hot dogs and luncheon meats. Murano stated, “If consumers realize what you are doing is applying energy to food, and realize the food will not be changed in any way, they will accept it.” Murano’s nomination must be considered by the U.S. Senate.

For more information, visit

Congress Considers Elevating EPA Chair to Cabinet Position

A bill introduced by Congressman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) would redesignate the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as the Department of Environmental Protection, and would make the EPA Administrator a member of the president’s cabinet. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is advancing a companion bill in the Senate. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said the Bush Administration would sign this measure if passed by Congress. According to Boehlert, the elevation would give the EPA the status and authority it needs to carry out its mission of protecting human health and the environment.

To track the status of this legislation, visit

EPA Solicits Comments on Arsenic Levels

In the July 19th edition of The Federal Register, the EPA published a “request for comments” on the following possible arsenic MCL options: three, five, ten and twenty parts per billion. The notice details the EPA’s plan for gathering public opinion on the various MCL options and comments on the forthcoming work of the National Academy of Science, the EPA’s Science Advisory Board and the National Drinking Water Advisory Council. The EPA plans to field comments related to understanding long-term averages in computing compliance costs and how the rule will affect small water systems. The agency expects to reach a final decision on the arsenic rule by February 22nd, 2002.

For more information on the pending arsenic rule, visit

EPA Seeks to Delay Clean Water Rule

The Bush Administration sought a delay last week in adopting a new Clean Water Act measure affecting thousands of lakes, rivers and streams. The proposal would delay for 18 months the effective date for changes to the EPA’s “total maximum daily load” (TMDL) program. According to several Congressional Republicans, the TMDL rule adopted by the Clinton Administration could cause utilities, farm groups and manufacturers to spend billions of dollars more annually on water cleanup. However, many environmental groups fear that the delay would undermine a program that could effectively clean the nation’s waterways. The TMDL rule would affect 21,000 bodies of water deemed too polluted for swimming or fishing because of storm water and agricultural runoff. The EPA is reviewing the rule and will seek additional input from various stakeholders.

For more information, visit

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