White House Unveils New Lead Removal Initiatives
Last week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced new actions and progress to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes and remediate lead paint based on the Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan.
The announcement was made at a White House Summit on Accelerating Lead Pipe Replacement hosted by Vice President Kamala Harris, who noted that the Administration is delivering tangible progress on the plan to replace all lead service lines in the country in the next decade.
The Summit featured discussions with state and local officials, along with water utility, labor union and nongovernmental partners, on reducing risks to public health posed by lead pipes.
According to the White House’s fact sheet, the two new major actions include the Biden-Harris Get the Lead Out Partnership in collaboration with more than 100 state and local leaders, nongovernmental organizations, water utilities, labor unions and others; and the creation of Lead Service Line Replacement (LSLR) Accelerators through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Get the Lead Out Partnership leverages existing efforts and funding to accelerate the replacement of lead service lines and pipes by the end of the decade, as well as creating good paying jobs and prioritizing lead remediation efforts in underserved communities.
The LSLR Accelerators program will provide start to finish, hands-on support to guide communities through the process of lead service line removals. This will reportedly include support in developing lead service line replacement plans, conducting inventories to identify lead pipes, increasing community outreach and education efforts, and supporting applications for bipartisan infrastructure law funding.
“The science is clear—there is no safe level of exposure to lead,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “EPA is committed to partnering with states and communities to protect children and families and ensure our nation's drinking water pipes are lead-free.
“Our Lead Service Line Replacement Accelerators demonstrate our commitment to ensuring every community has access to safe, clean drinking water. By leveraging the historic investment made possible by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are moving one step closer to achieving President Biden’s vision of 100% lead-free water systems for all,” Regan added.
Additionally, at the time of the announcement, the EPA announced that $1.2 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law revolving loan funds have already reached 23 states for lead service line identification and replacement.
Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan
At the end of 2021, the White House released its Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan as part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes and remediate lead paint. The goal of the plan is to replace all lead pipes in the next decade.
According to the White House, at the time, approximately 10 million American households and 400,000 schools land childcare centers are served by a lead service line or pipe. About 24 million housing units have lead-based paint hazards, which reportedly 4 million of house young children.
The plan, according to the White House Fact Sheet, features 15 new actions with more than 10 federal agencies. These actions are divided into three categories: getting resources to communities; updating rules and strengthening enforcement; and reducing exposure in disadvantaged communities, schools, daycare centers and public housing, including:
The Cabinet Level Partnership for Lead Remediation in Schools and Childcare Centers will include partnerships between the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA.
In terms of funding, in addition to the $350 billion provided in the American Rescue Plan, the White House is investing:
The White House states that low-income people and communities of color are disproportionately exposed to the risks of lead-contaminated drinking water, including Non-Hispanic Black people being more than twice as likely as Non-Hispanic White people to live in moderately or severely substandard housing.
The EPA’s 2021 Economic Analysis on the benefits of lead service line replacement showed significant increases in lifetime earnings, associated with avoided intelligence quotient (IQ) loss in children, as well as reduced risks of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and other adverse health effects.