Trump administration’s Federal Action Plan on lead falls short

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John Rumpler

Senior Director, Clean Water for America Campaign and Senior Attorney, Environment America Research & Policy Center

Environment America urges stronger policies to Get the Lead Out

Environment America

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Federal Action Plan to Reduce Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts. John Rumpler, director of Environment America’s Clean Water for America campaign, made the following statement in response:

“The Federal Action Plan falls short of the decisive action needed to “Get The Lead Out” of our children’s lives. While the Plan affirms well-established goals — like reducing exposure to lead — it offers no new policy tools or resource commitments to reach those goals, and ensure lead-free drinking water for our children.

“We know that lead is contaminating drinking water in communities across the country. It’s time our leaders put forth a decisive strategy to reduce exposure to lead — one that includes enforceable, health-based standards, and major resources to help communities Get the Lead Out. That is not what we saw today with this Federal Action Plan.

“A credible plan to Get The Lead Out should include measures that:

  • Remove all lead service lines. These toxic lead pipes remain the single greatest source of lead contamination of water, affecting 7 to 11 million homes, child care centers, and other places nationwide. The EPA should require that water utilities fully replace these lead pipes and provide filters certified to remove lead. And at the very least, HUD should require lead service line replacement as part of its “lead-free” housing program.

  • Protect our children at school and pre-school. We also need to “Get the Lead Out” at schools — replacing lead-laden faucets and fountains, installing filters certified to remove lead, and lower the limit for lead in schools’ water to 1 part per billion, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  • Strengthen enforcement and standards to protect health. There is no safe level of lead exposure. The EPA should reject the current “action level” of 15 parts per billion, update the Lead and Copper Rule to establish an enforceable health-based standard, and require water utilities to take preventive steps to ensure safe drinking water.

  • Commit significant resources. Eliminating lead contamination of our water will cost money. Replacing lead service lines alone will likely cost $30 billion or more, according to the EPA.  Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s proposed budget contains a tiny fraction of the funding needed to Get the Lead Out of our drinking water. While the Federal Action Plan highlights three newly authorized grant programs under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, this funding is just a drop in the bucket of what’s needed to ensure safe drinking water for Americans.

“We urge the administration to move beyond visions, and develop a credible plan to address this pervasive threat to children’s health. We simply can’t wait any longer.”