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EPA to request additional input on lead and copper rule

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Thu, Mar 11th 2021 10:05 am

‘Important step’ would ensure EPA consults with stakeholders on protections from lead in drinking water

On Wednesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced it is extending the effective date of the revised lead and copper rule (LCR) so the agency can seek further public input, particularly from communities that are most at-risk of exposure to lead in drinking water.

A press release stated, “EPA is committed to ensuring that the revised LCR protects families and communities – especially children – from lead, which can cause irreversible and life-long health effects, including decreasing IQ, focus and academic achievement.”

EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox said, “The purpose of these two actions is to enable EPA to conduct a thorough review of the revised lead and copper rule and fully consult with stakeholders, including those that have been disproportionately impacted by lead in drinking water. Exposure to lead in drinking water can be a very serious problem for children’s health. It is essential that EPA takes the time now to review this important rule to ensure that we are protecting current and future generations.”

EPA said it is committed to following the best science to address lead in the nation’s drinking water and will take the appropriate time to review the revised LCR and make sure communities that have been impacted the most are protected. To accomplish this goal, EPA has posted two prepublication notices on its website regarding the revised LCR.

The first action is a final rule that announces an extension of the effective date for the revised LCR from March 16 until June 17. The purpose of this additional time is to enable EPA to take public comment on a second action that would provide a longer extension of the effective date, and for EPA to undertake its review of the rule in a deliberate and thorough manner consistent with the public health purposes of the Safe Drinking Water Act, President Joe Biden’s executive order on protecting public health and the environment and restoring science to tackle the climate crisis, the president’s chief of staff’s regulatory freeze pending review memorandum, and in consultation with affected stakeholders.

The second action proposes to extend the effective date until Dec. 16, and also proposes a corresponding extension of the revised LCR’s compliance deadline to Sept. 16, 2024. This action would ensure drinking water systems and primacy states continue to have the full three years provided by the Safe Drinking Water Act to take actions needed to assure regulatory compliance. EPA is seeking comment on this proposal for 30 days after it publishes in the Federal Register. 

Moving forward, EPA said it will maintain a flexible approach by learning from stakeholders, including communities that have been impacted by lead, drinking water utilities and EPA’s state partners, incorporating the best available science, and adapting solutions to meet needs at the local level. EPA will deploy the full suite of its capabilities to help communities – especially low-income communities and those who have been historically disproportionately impacted by water-related challenges – reduce exposure to lead in drinking water.

For more information, visit www.epa.gov/safewater.

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