Statement: New White House plan to get the lead out marks key progress for safer drinking water

Media Contacts
Matt Casale

Former Director, Environment Campaigns, PIRG

Administration-wide effort includes commitment to replace all lead service lines


BOSTON — The White House unveiled a new plan Thursday to prevent the lead contamination of drinking water (and reduce other exposures to lead). The Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan features unprecedented federal funding and a commitment by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “to propose requirements that, along with other actions, would replace all lead service lines as quickly as feasible.” More broadly, the White House plan includes 15 actions across 10 federal agencies, allocations of relevant federal funding, and a cabinet-level partnership to reduce lead in child care centers and schools. 

In response, experts from Environment America and U.S. PIRG issued the following statements:

“We’ve known for decades that lead is highly toxic for kids – harming their growth, development, and learning,” said Matt Casale, Environment Campaigns director for U.S. PIRG. “Yet we allowed this potent neurotoxicant to be used in everything from paint to gasoline, and we have spent decades undoing the damage. Today, we are hopeful that the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan marks the moment when our nation commits the rules and resources needed to eliminate this health hazard, so our kids have safe drinking water wherever they go to learn and play each day.”

“This plan marks an ambitious federal effort to end lead contamination of our drinking water,” said John Rumpler, senior director of Environment America’s clean water program. “Already, the administration has secured major funding to replace lead service lines, including $15 billion in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. Now, the EPA is committing to ensure the full replacement of these toxic pipes – a long-overdue and an indispensable step toward securing safe water. We eagerly await the details of the agency’s plan. For example,the EPA should set a deadline of 10 years or less to replace lead service lines, as New Jersey has recently done. Similarly, to stop the widespread contamination of schools’ drinking water, the administration should focus its resources and policies on prevention rather than testing.

“Ensuring safe drinking water will also require action at all levels of government. Congress must also approve the nearly $10 billion of additional funds to get the lead out in the Build Back Better package. State officials and school districts should swiftly allocate existing federal recovery funds to prevent lead contamination, as outlined in Environment America Research & Policy Center’s recent Get the Lead Out toolkit.”