Statement: Subcommittee advances important drinking water bills

Media Contacts
Danielle Melgar

Former Food & Agriculture, Advocate, PIRG

House panel authorizes funding on lead, action on PFAS, more work to be done

U.S. PIRG & Environment America

WASHINGTON — The House Energy & Commerce environment subcommittee advanced key measures to protect drinking water on Wednesday. These include H.R. 3291, the Assistance, Quality, and Affordability Act (AQUA), and H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act. The AQUA bill not only authorizes $4.5 billion per year to replace lead pipes, but an amendment to the legislation by Rep. Yvette Clarke also creates a new grant program to help schools get the lead out. The PFAS Action Act designates key “forever chemicals” as hazardous under Superfund, which will ensure polluters pay for clean up.

The subcommittee’s action comes as more and more evidence confirms that lead and PFAS are contaminating the drinking water of millions of Americans.  

In response to the committee’s vote for the PFAS Action Act, Danielle Melgar, U.S. PIRG’s Zero Out Toxics Advocate, issued the following statement:

“As a Michigander, I’m proud to see Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton bridging partisan divides to introduce this important bill that will help protect all Americans from a toxic threat. PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ are already in our environment, polluting innumerable communities across the country. Designating some PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund program is a crucial first step to getting them cleaned up and protecting American families.”

In response to the AQUA Act passing the committee, John Rumpler, Environment America’s clean water program director, issued the following statement: 

“The AQUA bill takes key steps to ‘get the lead out’ of our drinking water — including authorization of $45 billion to replace all lead service lines. We thank Reps. Paul Tonko and Frank Pallone for their leadership on this legislation. We also commend Rep. Yvette Clarke for her amendment to provide an initial down payment on funding for schools, which is necessary to ensure that all our kids’ water is safe. With new bottle filling stations featuring point-of-use filters installed, we will take a big step toward removing toxic lead. We hope further funding to keep our kids’ water safe at school is forthcoming.  

“Nevertheless, there is still work to do. While most communities should be able to replace their lead pipes in a decade or less, many have dragged their feet for decades. That is why the 10-year deadline for replacing these toxic pipes — as set forth in the bi-partisan Smith-Cuellar Get the Lead Out bill (H.R. 3300) — is so critical. We urge the full committee to incorporate this key provision into any final drinking water package.”