EPA chief Andrew Wheeler called drinking water a global crisis.

Wheeler said the Trump administration wanted to do more to address water issues that affect up to 2.5 billion people around the world, according to the United Nations, and infrastructure issues that could cost up to 700 billion dollars in the United States.

He said many people will attribute the problems to climate change even though those impacts are decades away.

“My frustration with the current dialogue on environmental issues is that water issues often take a back seat. It’s time to change that,” he said Wednesday in his remarks at the Wilson Center.

“We must do something for the millions of people who die each year from lack of clean water and sanitation. We have to do something about marine debris. And I think we can do that while continuing to tackle other challenges that lie ahead. horizon.”

Wheeler said human activities are contributing to global warming and the impact of climate change, but the administration disagrees with some of the recent reports and studies that highlight the urgency of reducing fuel use. fossils. In an interview with ABC News Live last month, he said the administration was working on proposals to cut carbon dioxide emissions, but did not view climate change as a “crisis.”

“We have a thousand children around the world who die every day because they don’t have clean water. It’s a, it’s a crisis that I think we can solve,” Wheeler said. in an interview with CBS News wednesday, quoting United Nations Statistics.

“Most of the threats of climate change are in 50 to 75 years. What we need to do is make sure that the people who die today from lack of clean water in third world countries, this problem is resolved.”

But the Green New Deal proposal that sparked debate on Capitol Hill is based on a United Nations report that some severe climate change impacts may become “irreversible” over the next 20 years. The timeline has become a call to arms for climate change activists and Democrats who say the country needs to radically change to eliminate the use of fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.

While Wheeler has addressed the issues associated with unsafe drinking water around the world, the jurisdiction of the EPA is primarily national.

Communities across the country are struggling with aging water infrastructure and contamination from sources like chemicals and lead. The Flint, Michigan crisis is one of the most high-profile examples, but more cities like Baltimore and Newark, New Jersey have faced lead-contaminated water.

Wheeler said the EPA works with state and local authorities in these communities, but overall 92 percent of water systems in the United States are safe.

Many local officials also say they are already experiencing the impacts of climate change, especially when it comes to flooding, and are already working to make cities more resilient.

The EPA’s main enforcement problem recently told members of Congress that one of the agency’s biggest concerns is the number of drinking water systems that violate safety requirements or use outdated infrastructure.

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