News Feature | February 13, 2018

EPA Boss Calls For 'War On Lead'

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Calling for a war on lead as a new feature of federal policy, U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is meeting with Cabinet officials this week to discuss how to keep children safe from lead contamination.

He wants “fellow Cabinet members to help him develop a federal strategy to reduce the exposure of children to lead in drinking water. He invited Cabinet members to a February 15 meeting to discuss a strategy to update the nation’s water infrastructure,” The Washington Examiner reported.

Pruitt sent a letter to Trump administration Cabinet leaders to discuss his lead agenda. Letter recipients included Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, among others, The Examiner reported.

“Lead poisoning is an insidious menace that robs our children of their intellect and their future. For decades, efforts have been underway on many fronts to reduce and respond to lead exposure and contamination,” Pruitt wrote in the letter.

Pruitt has previously called his push a “war on lead,” The Hill reported. He told The Washington Post that he is prepared to take major actions to mitigate lead contamination. 

“It's one of our greatest challenges in this country: lead in our drinking water … that threatens the mental acuity of children,” he said. “I'm likely going to go to Congress next year and will ask them to do some big things. … We can do those things together. Why do we have to continue this divisive type of approach to these very, very important issues to the country?”

The Lead and Copper Rule could be a target for reform during the “war on lead.”

“Facing pressure during the Flint water crisis, the Obama administration initiated a process for revising the Lead and Copper Rule, proposing improvements such as strengthening the standards for replacing aging lead pipes,” The Examiner reported.

“But the EPA was not able to complete the update, and the Trump administration says it will finish the job, targeting August for a proposed revision to the rule. The agency delayed consideration of a new rule after promising to release one by January,” the report said.