EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler Commits to Working with Duckworth on Legislation to Improve Hiring Transparency at
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] — Acting Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler agreed to work with U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on her legislation to improve transparency in hiring practices at the EPA while appearing before the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee yesterday. Duckworth introduced the EPA Special Hiring Authority Transparency Act with EPW Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-DE) in May to strengthen oversight of EPA hiring practices after disgraced former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt abused a loophole in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) to secretly reward several of his top aides with dramatic salary increases over White House objections. Duckworth and Carper’s legislation would require the EPA Administrator to notify Congress within 30 days of any appointment under SDWA. Wheeler also agreed to Duckworth’s requests to release the findings of the Trump Administration’s interagency task force on reducing lead exposure and to improve how the EPA informs the public on its implementation of the bipartisan renewable fuel standard program.
“I appreciate Acting Administrator Wheeler’s willingness to work with me and Senator Carper on our legislation promoting transparency in the EPA’s hiring practices. This bill is a critical step in restoring the public’s trust in the EPA,” Duckworth said, “I also thank him for agreeing to my request to release records on the EPA’s task force on reducing lead exposure so we can better protect our children and those who are most at risk from toxins and lead poisoning.”
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) protects public drinking water supplies. Under SDWA, the EPA sets rules for drinking water quality and implements various programs to ensure utilities across the country are able to comply with our federal drinking water standards. The law also provides the Administrator of EPA with the authority to appoint up to 30 people without regard to civil service laws.
Duckworth has been outspoken about the need to address failures in our public water systems and has introduced several pieces of legislation to address lead poisoning in America’s drinking water. In 2017, Duckworth and U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) re-introduced the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act, which would ensure periodic testing for lead contamination in schools while also providing schools with additional resources to monitor lead levels and replace outdated water infrastructure systems. 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 – and last month, she joined U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and 9 of their colleagues in introducing the Containment and Lead Electronic Accounting and Reporting Requirements (CLEARR) for Drinking Water Act, which would authorize more than $1 billion in federal funding to help small and disadvantaged communities replace contaminated water infrastructure to comply with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements.
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