On December 16, the Biden Administration released a new plan for removing lead pipes across the U.S. via the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This plan — a National Primary Drinking Water Regulation on Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI) — includes the goal to remove all lead service lines by the end of President Biden’s first term.
EPA will immediately begin to develop new regulations for lead and copper pipes to meet the goals of this new plan. EPA intends to promulgate the LCRI prior to October 16, 2024.
In the meantime, the administration will implement the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR; EPA-HQ-OW-2021-0255) developed during the Trump administration. The Biden Administration has stated that the LCRR is not protective enough, but it is more protective than the 1996 language. While the LCRR lacks requirements to remove 100% of lead pipes, it does required creating lead service line inventories, which is integral to lead reduction efforts.
The Administration’s new plan is expected to be broader than just the new LCRI rulemaking announced by EPA. The departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), as well as other federal agencies are expected to be included in the plan to create a collaborative effort for 100% lead pipe removal. The Department of Education, for example, would develop a plan to ensure lead removal in all schools.
The Administration also said it would distribute $2.9 billion in funds from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) for lead service line replacement for the next 5 years (totaling around $15 billion). A White House press release noted the Administration would be “calling on states to prioritize underserved communities.”
EPA and the U.S. Department of Labor also will create regional technical assistance hubs that seek to “fast track” the removal process.
Meanwhile, HUD will distribute grants to remove lead paint and other hazards in low-income communities.