The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) this week unveiled new proposed rules for the national Lead and Copper Rule, aimed at reducing lead exposure in drinking water.
In a statement, the agency said that the “proposed rule will identify the most at-risk communities and ensure systems have plans in place to rapidly respond by taking actions to reduce elevated levels of lead in drinking water.”
But for some environmental advocates and Michigan politicians for whom the Flint water crisis remains a clear memory, the proposed rule change stops far short of what is needed.
“The [President] Trump Administration’s new Lead and Copper Rule is a step backwards and a slap in the face to the children in Flint. The President’s new rule weakens already inadequate protections and fails to protect public health,” U.S. Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) said in a statement.
“We know there is no safe level of lead in water and we need to remove all lead service lines in our communities to protect families and children,” Kildee said. “Yet, President Trump’s dangerous rule allows lead lines to remain in communities, even after high levels of lead have been found in drinking water.”
Environmental advocates offered a similar analysis, according to the Washington Post.
Perhaps the most controversial part is that the EPA will not mandate that all lead service lines must be replaced, which environmentalists have called for to stave off the risk of lead leaching into water supplies. Flint’s lines are all being replaced, but only following the water crisis.
Kildee also noted that the EPA’s rule would not actually lower the level at which action is taken when lead is discovered. The federal rule stands at 15 parts per billion, below Michigan’s strictest-in-the nation Lead and Copper Rule enacted after the Flint water crisis.