EPA Chief Calls Unsafe Water a Bigger Threat than Climate Change, Despite Data

March 20, 2019, 4:47 PM UTC

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler thinks unsafe drinking water is the biggest environmental threat the world currently faces.

Speaking to CBS News, Wheeler said a lack of access to clean water is a more pressing concern than climate change. “We have 1,000 children die everyday worldwide because they don’t have safe drinking water. That’s a crisis I think we can solve. We know what goes into solving a crisis like that,” Wheeler said.

While the safety of drinking water is a pressing concern—at least two billion people get water from a source contaminated with feces, according to World Health Organization estimates—that data does not appear to confirm Wheeler’s assertions.

Additionally, an October report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that we have 12 years to manage the threat of climate change.

Meanwhile, Wheeler noted that climate change is something “we have to be addressing and we are addressing,” but argued that “most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.” He added, the Trump administration has plans to roll out new regulations this year to curb CO2 emissions, a significant contributor to global warming.

Speaking Wednesday in Washington to mark World Water Day, Wheeler reasserted his claims, that threats to our global water infrastructure, such as unsafe drinking water, plastic pollution in the oceans, and droughts, are “the largest and most immediate environmental and public health issues affecting the world right now.”