13 blue states say EPA should strengthen proposal to remove lead water pipes

Attorneys general from 13 Democrat-led states and Washington, D.C., are calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen a proposal that seeks to limit Americans’ exposure to lead service lines.

The EPA last year proposed that nearly all lead pipes that carry water be replaced in 10 years because lead exposure can damage children’s brains and nervous systems.

The attorneys general wrote in comments on that rule this week that they are “concerned that the Proposed Rule does too little to protect public health generally and specifically to address the disparate impacts of lead-contaminated drinking water on underserved communities.”

“We advocate for EPA to strengthen several aspects of the proposal,” they added.

The issues raised by the attorneys general include a loophole that they said could leave some cities with lead water lines for decades.

They pointed to a provision that allows flexibility for systems with large numbers of lead pipes, requiring them to only replace 10,000 lead service lines per year.

Under the threshold, lead replacement could take 44.6 years in Chicago, 33.1 years in Houston, 18.5 years in Cleveland and 13.8 years in New York, they wrote.

The Democrats said that after the first 10 years, the agency should double how quickly major cities have to replace their lead pipes.

The attorneys general are from New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

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