January 30, 2018

Duckworth: Pruitt Failed to Take Action on his ‘War on Lead,’ But Uses Taxpayer Dollars for Travel Expenses Unrelated to EPA’s Mission


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), the top Democrat on the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee, today grilled Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt over his failure to follow through on his promises to combat lead poisoning and protect American children and families from contaminated water. She expressed concern regarding the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposal, which eliminates funding for anti-lead contamination programs, including the EPA’s Lead Risk Reduction Program and programs associated with the Office of Ground and Drinking Water. Duckworth also questioned Pruitt’s use of taxpayer dollars for travel expenses unrelated to his role as EPA Administrator. Video of Duckworth's questions at Pruitt's hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing regarding lead poisoning is available here and video of her questions regarding his use of taxpayer dollars is available here.

“Mr. Pruitt has said that he wants to eradicate lead poisoning over the next 10 years as part of his ‘war on lead,’ but he has yet to demonstrate that he’s serious about protecting clean drinking water for American families,” said Duckworth. “Under his leadership, the EPA has actually taken several steps to make it harder – not easier – to limit lead exposure, including delaying updates to the Lead and Copper Rule. That doesn’t sound like a ‘war on lead’ to me. No child should have to worry about lead poisoning when they get a drink of water at school or at home, and I’ll keep working to ensure we eliminate lead contamination once and for all.”

Last year, Duckworth introduced the National Opportunity for Lead Exposure Accountability and Deterrence (NO LEAD) Act of 2017 to protect clean drinking water by helping guide the EPA review of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to make lead testing reports more comprehensive and ensure reports are easily available to the public. Duckworth also reintroduced the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act of 2017 with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to help ensure drinking water in schools across our nation is clean and safe from lead. These bills would improve water testing to keep potential contaminants like lead and copper out of public water supplies and provide resources to help communities remove contaminants that may already be present.

Later in the hearing, Duckworth pressed Pruitt to explain the tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars he spent on a recent trip to Morocco to promote the sale of American natural gas despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Energy – not the EPA – oversees natural gas exports. Duckworth then asked him to explain whether he found Morocco to be a ‘shithole’ country, as President Trump recently described North African countries.

“Mr. Pruitt talks a lot about the ‘rule of law,’ but frequently acts as if the ‘rule of law’ doesn’t apply to him,” said Duckworth. “Now he owes it to the American people to explain why he used taxpayer dollars to promote the sale of natural gas abroad, in addition to the tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars he used to finance other trips that don’t have a clear connection with the EPA’s mission.”