News Feature | February 12, 2024

Coalition Of States Demands Biden, U.S. EPA Drop Lead Pipe Regulation

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga

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As the Biden administration works to remedy one of the most pervasive drinking water contamination issues in the country, states are banding together to push back.

“(Kansas Attorney General Kris) Kobach is leading a coalition of state attorneys general from 14 other states in opposition to the ‘National Primary Water Regulations for Lead and Copper’ plan to replace more than 9 million lead pipes in the USA,” KSNT reported. “According to a letter from Kobach, the attorneys general estimate the removal and replacement of pipes would cost more than $60 billion. So far, Congress has set aside $15 billion for the project.”

High-profile lead contamination incidents caused by outdated infrastructure in Flint, Michigan, Jackson, Mississippi, and elsewhere have pushed the EPA to mandate replacement of lead-based pipelines within the next 10 years. But that undertaking has already run into obstacles, including financial concerns and challenges in identifying the old service lines.

Leading the opposing coalition, Kobalch has described the plan as “heavy handed” and “overreach by the Biden administration.”

“Kobach alleges that the regulations would force homeowners to pay to replace their own lines if they contain lead and connect to a city line,” according to KSNT.

Attorneys general from Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming have joined the opposition.

Meanwhile, a group of attorneys general from 13 Democrat-led states are arguing that the U.S. EPA’s mandate does not go far enough.

“The issues raised by the (blue state) attorneys general include a loophole that they said could leave some cities with lead water lines for decades,” per The Hill. “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.”

The states calling for a stronger mandate include New York, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C.

If nothing else, the controversy surrounding the EPA’s lead line replacement mandate shows that almost no issue is free from bipartisan debate. But those responsible for ensuring that drinking water is safe to consume are probably most focused on infrastructure improvements, regardless of how they’re paid for.

To read more about how lead infrastructure can impact drinking water quality, visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Distribution Solutions Center.