Advance Notice: Briefs

House Dems call on EPA for stronger Lead and Copper Rule

By: - February 21, 2020 1:27 pm

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | Getty Images

A group of 50 House Democrats led by U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) is pushing for more robust federal rules for protecting consumers against lead and copper in their drinking water.

In a letter sent Tuesday to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler, the Democrats urged the federal agency to strengthen proposed changes to the EPA Lead and Copper Rule.

U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens | Ken Coleman

Other Michigan lawmakers who signed off on the letter include U.S. Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Flint), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly).

The letter expressed “deep concerns” about proposed revisions to the rule, which Stevens and her colleagues say would not go nearly far enough to protect residents and families against the risk of lead poisoning.

“We strongly recommend that you require all lead service lines to be fully and promptly removed by public water systems,” the letter reads. “… Scientists, including EPA’s Science Advisory Board, have found that partial lead service line replacement does not reduce the risk of lead exposure and can actually make it worse.”

The lawmakers added that they would like to work with the EPA to secure “significant additional federal funding to help replace lead service lines,” as current funding is “inadequate” to address the problem.

Additionally, they ask that the new Lead and Copper Rule include a requirement for customers to be notified annually if their service lines could be at risk for lead contamination, and that the two-tier “trigger level” system for identifying harmful amounts of lead should be simplified with a new national action level.

The Michigan League of Conservation Voters (LCV) agrees with the lawmakers.

“Flint taught us the devastating lesson that there is no safe level for lead in our drinking water,” said LCV Executive Director Lisa Wozniak. “Now we have communities all over Michigan where schools or homes are testing for dangerous, elevated levels of lead in the water.”

Last week, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark sent a letter to the EPA advocating for the federal government to adopt Michigan’s toughest-in-the nation Lead and Copper Rule.

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Laina G. Stebbins
Laina G. Stebbins

Laina G. Stebbins is a former Michigan Advance reporter. A lifelong Michigander, she is a graduate of Michigan State University’s School of Journalism, where she served as Founding Editor of The Tab Michigan State and as a reporter for the Capital News Service.