Monday, May 21, 2007

Whitman to Testify on 9/11 Health Issues - Central Florida News 13

Whitman to Testify on 9/11 Health Issues - Central Florida News 13:


Whitman to Testify on 9/11 Health Issues
Sunday, May 20, 2007 6:09:05 PM

NEW YORK(AP)

Christie Whitman, the former Environmental Protection Agency administrator, agreed to testify before Congress about the government's handling of air quality and health issues following the Sept. 11 attacks.

Whitman's attorney told Rep. Jerrold Nadler on Wednesday that she could not testify at a subcommittee hearing because of a pending federal lawsuit against the EPA over its statements that air was safe to breathe in downtown Manhattan in the days after the attacks.

But "if you insist that I appear before the subcommittee while that litigation is still pending, I am prepared to honor your request," Whitman told Nadler in a letter dated Thursday.

"I am extremely proud of the EPA's work in response to the terrorist attacks on our nation on Sept. 11, 2001. The men and women of the EPA were _ and are _ dedicated to protecting the health of the American public and I will be pleased to answer any questions the subcommittee might have about their efforts during my tenure as director of the agency," Whitman wrote.

Nadler said he would accommodate Whitman by rescheduling a hearing that had been set for Tuesday.

Whitman last testified before Congress about the EPA's response to the attacks in 2003. New York officials say some 400,000 were exposed to ground zero dust and 71,000 have enrolled in a long-term health monitoring program for people with and without health problems. Most experts believe there are thousands of people still sick years after ground zero exposure.

A federal lawsuit by lower Manhattan residents accuses Whitman of jeopardizing their health by declaring that "the air is safe to breathe" at a time when, according to the EPA inspector general, a quarter of dust samples were recording unhealthy asbestos levels. A federal judge has refused to dismiss the lawsuit; that decision is being appealed.

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