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(WASHINGTON, DC) – Today, by voice vote the Senate approved Senator Patty Murray's (D-Wash.) amendment to provide funds for public water systems to comply with new drinking water standards. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) joined Murray in introducing the amendment.

The bill was necessary because President Bush had proposed to withdraw the tougher standards on arsenic in public water, citing it was an unfunded mandate on local communities.

"I am very pleased the Senate accepted this important amendment," Senator Murray said. "Opponents of the new arsenic standard have frequently argued that small, rural communities can't afford it. Today the Senate took away this excuse."

The Nelson-Murray amendment provides $43,855,000 in fiscal year 2002 for public water systems to comply with the arsenic standard of 10 parts per billion. The new standard was finalized in January of 2001, but the Bush Administration has proposed withdrawing it to conduct additional analysis of costs and science supporting the rule.

"I strongly support the arsenic drinking water standard finalized earlier this year," Senator Murray added. "I am concerned about the dangerous levels of arsenic in our drinking water. This exposure is particularly dangerous to children and pregnant women. Opponents argue we can't afford the new rule. I don't think we can afford to wait."

In 1999, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report finding that the current arsenic standard of 50 parts per billion could easily result in a total fatal cancer risk of 1 in 100. The World Health Organization and the European Union have adopted the 10 ppb standard. Senator Murray also recently cosponsored legislation introduced by Senator Dodd (D-CT) to lower the standard to 10 parts per billion.