Joe Biden

ICYMI: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Action to Protect Communities from Lead Exposure

November 30, 2023

The Biden-Harris Administration is working to ensure a future where every child and family can live safely in their communities without the fear and harmful effects of lead exposure. Today, as part of President Biden and Vice President Harris's vision for a lead-free future, the Environmental Protection Agency announced a proposal to strengthen its Lead and Copper Rule that would require water systems to replace lead service lines within 10 years, helping secure safe drinking water for communities across the country.

The President's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests over $50 billion for the largest upgrade to the nation's water infrastructure in history, and today's action builds on these historic levels of funding from President Biden's Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, to replace lead service lines across the nation.

Read more below:

Associated Press: Cities must replace harmful lead pipes within 10 years under new Biden administration plan
[Michael Phillips, 11/30/23]

"These improvements ensure that in a not too distant future, there will never be another city and another child poisoned by their pipes," said Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician and clean water advocate. The Biden administration has previously said it wants all of the nation's roughly 9 million lead pipes to be removed, and rapidly. Lead pipes connect water mains in the street to homes and are typically the biggest source of lead in drinking water. They are most common in older, industrial parts of the country. Lead crises have hit poorer, majority-Black cities like Flint especially hard, propelling the risks of lead in drinking water into the national consciousness. Their impact reaches beyond public health. After the crises, tap water use declined nationally, especially among Black and Hispanic people. The Biden administration says investment is vital to fix this injustice and ensure everyone has safe, lead-free drinking water.

Washington Post: To protect kids, EPA wants total removal of lead pipes for the first time
[Anna Phillips, 11/30/23]

Under the proposed rule, most water utilities across the country would have 10 years to replace lead service lines, many of which have been in the ground for a century, delivering drinking water to homes, schools and offices. Ten percent of the pipes would have to be replaced each year and the regulation would restrict partial replacements — an approach some utilities have taken in which they remove only the segments of lead pipe they own, even when there are high lead levels in homeowners' tap water. The agency's announcement builds on President Biden's promise early in his administration to remove every lead pipe in the country by 2031. "We're replacing every single, solitary lead pipe in America. Hear me?" the president said at a campaign event in Maryland last summer.

New York Times: Biden Administration to Require Replacing of Lead Pipes Within 10 Years
[Coral Davenport, 11/30/23]

"This is the strongest lead rule that the nation has ever seen," Radhika Fox, the E.P.A.'s assistant administrator for water, said in an interview. "This is historic progress." […]
The proposal, which would update regulations under the 1991 Safe Drinking Water Act, is the most forceful part of a multifront push by President Biden to stop lead exposure. Mr. Biden has made it a central part of his administration's effort to address racial health disparities in the United States. Children in communities of color and in low-income urban areas are more likely to be exposed to lead from paint and aging water systems than their counterparts in areas with new housing and infrastructure. "The vice president and I made a commitment to replace every single service line in every part of the country over the next decade, by using — not most, every — we're using every tool at our disposal to get it done," Mr. Biden said in a February speech about his lead abatement initiatives.

Reuters: U.S. EPA proposes replacing lead water pipes within 10 years
[Jyoti Narayan, 11/30/23]

The White House has made removing every lead pipe within 10 years in the United States a centerpiece of its plan to address racial disparities and environmental issues in the wake of water contamination crises in recent years from Newark, New Jersey to Flint, Michigan. The administration announced $15 billion in funding to remove such pipes as part of the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package President Joe Biden signed in November, 2021.

CNN: EPA proposes requirement to remove lead pipes from US water systems within 10 years
[Deidre McPhillips, 11/30/23]

The rule would accelerate progress toward the Biden administration goal of removing 100% of lead pipes; lead exposure is linked to significant health and developmental problems, especially for children. The EPA proposal said lines must be replaced within 10 years, regardless of the lead levels in tap or other drinking water samples. Additional time could be allowed "in limited circumstances" for some systems that need complete system-wide line replacements, the proposal said. […] The Biden administration has dedicated $15 billion to removing lead service lines through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and there is an additional $11.7 billion in general funding available through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund that can be utilized for these types of projects. "The bottom line is, lead poisoning is preventable," Brenda Mallory, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, said at the briefing. "This is a problem we can and will solve to save more children and families from facing it."

ABC: Biden announces proposal to replace all lead water service lines within 10 years
[Jon Haworth, 11/30/23]

According to the White House, more than 9.2 million American households connect to water through lead pipes and lead service lines and, due to "decades of inequitable infrastructure development and underinvestment," many Americans are at risk of lead exposure.

NBC: Utilities forced to replace lead drinking water pipes under proposed EPA rules
[Denise Chow, 11/30/23]

The EPA said the proposal is a key step toward President Joe Biden's goal of removing all lead pipes in the country and is part of the administration's broader push to limit lead exposure, which can damage the brain and nervous system, among other health consequences.

The Hill: EPA proposes requiring lead water pipes to be replaced in 10 years
[Rachel Frazin, 11/30/23]

The Biden administration on Thursday proposed to require drinking water pipes made with lead to be replaced in 10 years. Under the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) newly proposed "Lead and Copper Rule Improvements," water systems would have to replace lead service lines in 10 years, with limited exceptions. The proposal comes nearly a decade after the start of the Flint water crisis, perhaps the nation's best known lead contamination incident. About 99,000 Flint, Michigan, residents were exposed to lead after a 2014 water supply switch caused lead pipes to corrode and resulted in the substance leaching into the water. There is no safe level of exposure to lead, which damages children's brains and nervous systems.

The Messenger: Biden Administration Calls for Lead Pipes to be Replaced Within 10 Years
[Kayla Gallagher, 11/30/23]

Along with replacing 100% of lead service lines, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed additions to the Lead and Copper Rule that would increase tap water samplings, require water systems to complete more comprehensive lead service line inventories, and strengthen streamline requirements to reduce lead health risks.
The proposal also includes efforts to reduce lead exposure in paint, food, soil, and the workplace. In partnership with the Centers for Disease Control, the administration is working with the agency to improve lead blood testing practices.

Forbes: Lead Pipes Should Be Replaced Within 10 Years, Biden Administration Proposes
[Alison Durkee, 11/30/23]

The Biden administration proposed new requirements Thursday to replace virtually all lead pipes in the U.S. within in a decade, fulfilling a major promise the president's made to overhaul lead pipes in the wake of crises like the contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, that put Americans' health at risk.

USA Today: Lead water pipes still pose a health risk across America. The EPA wants to remove them all
[Eric Lagatta, 11/30/23]

Remaining lead water pipes nationwide could be replaced within 10 years in order to prevent public health catastrophes such as the one in Flint, Mich. under a new proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency. Proposed Thursday, the rule would advance President Joe Biden's years-long goal of removing lead from drinking water by compelling local utilities across the United States to dig up and replace about 9 million aging pipes. The massive undertaking, estimated to cost tens of millions of dollars, is meant protect the public, particularly children, from the hazardous neurotoxin. Experts have long agreed that people of color and those who live in low-income areas are most at risk of having high lead levels in their blood, causing permanent cognitive damage and other health problems.

Washington Examiner: EPA proposes rule to tighten lead pipeline standards
[Breanne Deppisch, 11/30/23]

"Getting the lead out means healthier children and healthier adults," EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters. "It means less hospital visits and lower healthcare costs. And it means good paying jobs in our overburdened and underserved communities all across the country." "Every day, we are one step closer to a 100% lead-free future for all, and our agency will not rest until we make this dream a reality," Regan added. Lead pipe exposure remains a pervasive problem for millions of people. Despite being banned from new construction in the 1980s, over 9 million lead service lines in the country are still delivering water to communities nationwide. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated roughly $50 billion in funds to upgrade U.S. drinking water infrastructure, including $15 billion that the law dedicates solely to replacing lead service lines.

Cox: EPA to require cities to replace lead water pipes within 10 years
[Natalie Dreier, 11/30/23]

In addition to replacing lead pipes nationwide, the agency is also lowering the amount of lead which would require utilities to take action and will encourage cities to inform the public better about when water lead levels are too high.

Scripps: EPA plan would eliminate lead pipes within 10 years
[Justin Boggs, 11/30/23]

"Because no safe blood level has been identified for young children, all sources of lead exposure for children should be controlled or eliminated," the CDC said. The EPA has already started a lead pipe replacement program in several cities, including Newark, New Jersey, and Benton Harbor, Michigan. So far, the EPA has awarded over $3.5 billion in funding for lead service line replacement across the country.

Fox Business: Biden administration proposes to require lead pipes to be replaced within 10 years
[Chris Pandolfo, 11/30/23]

The proposal would strengthen the Environmental Protection Agency's Lead and Copper Rule and allocate $15 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to replace lead service lines in water systems across the country. Administration officials say President Biden is committed to replacing all lead pipes in the nation — an action that comes nearly a decade after the Flint water crisis. In 2014, nearly 100,000 people were exposed to elevated lead levels after the Michigan city switched its water supply, which caused lead pipes to corrode and contaminated the city's drinking water. There is no safe level of lead exposure. Children exposed to elevated lead levels can suffer physical and mental harm and neurological damage.

US News & World Report: EPA to Require Removal of All Lead Pipes From U.S. Water System
[Robin Foster, 11/30/23]

"Here in Newark, N.J., our community persevered through a lead crisis and I'm proud of the work we did removing all 23,000 lead pipes in the city in under three years," Kareem Adeem, director of the Newark Department of Water and Sewer Utilities, said in the agency news release. "EPA's new proposed rule will prompt more communities across the country to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water. This action is commendable and represents a positive step forward toward safeguarding the health and well-being of current and future generations." "A game changer for kids and communities, EPA's proposed new lead and copper rule would help ensure that we will never again see the preventable tragedy of a city, or a child, poisoned by their pipes," said Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician in Flint, Mich,, who is also associate dean for public health at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine.

WBOY (West Virginia): EPA proposes requiring lead water pipes to be replaced in 10 years
[Alexandra Weaver, 11/30/23]

The EPA's proposal would lower the level of lead in the water, at which systems are required to take action in the meantime. Currently, if 10% of water samples are found to have at least 15 parts per billion of lead, water systems need to take mitigation actions. The EPA's proposal would drop that number down to 10 parts per billion. "Moving from 15 parts per billion to 10 parts per billion is a very significant public health improvement. It is going to compel a significant number of water systems to be taking interim measures like corrosion control," Radhika Fox, the EPA's top water official, told reporters.

Bridge Michigan: The Flint effect: Feds propose eliminating U.S. lead pipes within 10 years
[Kelly House, 11/30/23]

"With collaboration and the focused actions proposed today, EPA is delivering on our charge to protect all Americans, especially communities of color, that are disproportionately harmed by lead in drinking water systems," Regan said. Flint and Benton Harbor, two majority-Black Michigan cities full of old homes served by lead pipes, and beset by financial problems after decades of industrial disinvestment and population loss, became poster children for that harm during two separate yearlong water crises.

Joseph R. Biden, ICYMI: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Action to Protect Communities from Lead Exposure Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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