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

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

Last year, the EPA proposed replacing nearly all lead pipes that carry water within 10 years because lead exposure can damage children’s brains and nervous systems.

In his comments on the rule this week, the Attorney General said, “The proposed rule would do little to protect public health in general and specifically address the disparate effects of lead-contaminated drinking water on underserved communities.” We are concerned that we are woefully inadequate to address this issue.”

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

The issues raised by the attorney general include loopholes that could leave lead water pipes in some cities for decades.

They pointed to provisions that allow for flexibility in systems with large numbers of lead pipes, noting that only 10,000 lead service lines would need to be replaced annually.

Below this 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, the researchers wrote.

Democrats said that after the first 10 years, the agency should double the rate at which major cities must replace lead pipes.

Attorneys general come from New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Washington, DC.

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