Monday Morning Briefing

Monday Morning Briefing

Lead and Copper revisions draw scrutiny of congressional panel

Democrats and Republicans brought starkly different perspectives of EPA’s proposed Lead and Copper Rule revisions to a House Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee hearing held last week just one day before the agency’s deadline for public comment on the proposal. AMWA was invited to testify at the hearing and was represented by the association’s vice president, Angela Licata of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

The hearing, titled by the subcommittee’s Democratic majority as “EPA’s Lead and Copper Proposal: Failing to Protect Public Health,” previewed that party’s take on the proposal. Democrats on the subcommittee, as well as witnesses representing several public interest and environmental organizations, criticized the proposed rule for not setting a deadline for the full removal of all lead service lines nationwide or lowering the lead action level, along with other shortcomings. Lawmakers even hinted at a broader legislative effort to revise the Safe Drinking Water Act’s regulatory process.

“The Safe Drinking Water Act instructs EPA to set drinking water standards based on cost-benefit analysis, not public health,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) in his opening statement. “This is a fundamental flaw in the statute that leaves vulnerable populations and disproportionately exposed communities unprotected.”

Subcommittee Republicans offered a contrasting view, stressing that the costs of the new rule should be considered alongside public health benefits. Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), the top Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, used part of his opening statement to highlight a point in AMWA’s testimony noting that full lead service line replacement nationwide would not address the presence of lead in premise plumbing.

AMWA’s testimony was based on the association’s Lead and Copper Rule comments submitted to EPA last week. Like the comments, AMWA’s testimony applauded portions of the proposed rule but also recommended a number of changes to ensure the requirements of the revised rule are achievable, practical, and enforceable.