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Pallone Slams Half-Hearted Safe Drinking Water Hearing

May 19, 2017
Press Release

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following opening remarks at an Environment Subcommittee legislative hearing on “H.R. __, Drinking Water System Improvement Act and related issues of funding, management, and compliance assistance under the Safe Drinking Water Act:”

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  The safety of our drinking water is an incredibly important topic, which deserves more time than we have at today’s hearing.

At our last drinking water hearing, we heard broad agreement from witnesses and members that we need to reauthorize the drinking water State Revolving Fund and increase the funding.  My Democratic colleagues and I have been saying this for years, so I am encouraged that Republicans on this Subcommittee now seem to agree.

Unfortunately, this rushed hearing is not sufficient to address this issue.  We have a great panel of stakeholders, but little time to hear from them.  We have great ideas, but they are not reflected in the bare bones discussion draft.

We need a bipartisan effort to modernize the Safe Drinking Water Act.  But in preparing this discussion draft, your staff didn’t consult with us.  We were eager to work with you, but were told, without explanation, that such discussions would only happen after this hearing. 

So, before us today is a discussion draft that fails to measure up to the severity of the problem.  It simply does not meet the needs of public water systems and the communities they serve. 

The draft contains nothing to address the growing problem of lead in drinking water in homes and in schools. 

It does nothing to improve the regulatory process and better protect public health from new and emerging pollutant classes.

It does nothing to improve transparency and restore consumer confidence in the safety of our tap water. 

And there is no commitment to increase funding. 

So, I am very disappointed in this discussion draft, and I urge my colleagues to look at the real solutions in the bills that my Democratic colleagues and I have introduced - H.R. 1071, the AQUA of 2017, and H.R. 1068 the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 2017. 

I want to thank our witnesses for coming and apologize that we don’t have more time available.

I also want to express my frustration at the lack of a witness from the EPA.  This Subcommittee cannot produce meaningful legislation to reauthorize the State Revolving Fund and strengthen the Safe Drinking Water Act without their input. 

It’s clear we need to have another hearing – safe drinking water is simply too important.   I hope we can start to work together on a bipartisan bill to tackle these serious problems.   I yield back.

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