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Trump Lead Pipe Rule to Take Effect While Biden Drafts Update

Dec. 16, 2021, 10:00 AM

President Joe Biden will let a Trump administration rule cutting the percentage of lead pipes that need to be replaced annually take effect Thursday, as environmental regulators craft a new rule governing toxic metal in drinking water, a senior Biden environmental official said.

Officials will revise the standard, known as the lead and copper rule, by 2024, said a senior Environmental Protection Agency official granted anonymity to speak about the agency’s plan. In the meantime, the EPA will issue new guidance on implementation of the Trump-era rule, she said. The guidance will detail how drinking water systems will need to replace all of their lead service lines and develop inventories for existing lines.

The goal is to replace all lead service lines as quickly as possible, the official said. The EPA estimates that there are up to 10 million lead service lines needing replacement nationwide.

The Trump rule, finalized late last year, is more protective than standards in place before, though the Environmental Protection Agency disagrees with the rule’s threshold for action, the Biden EPA official said. It requires water systems to replace at least 3% of lead service lines annually, down from 7% under the previous standard finalized in 1991.

The rule rewrite is part of a broader administration-wide push to remove lead pipes nationwide using regulation and funding from the new infrastructure law (Public Law 117-58).

The Biden administration in June delayed the Trump-era rule from taking effect until Dec. 16.

To contact the reporters on this story: Courtney Rozen in Washington at crozen@bgov.com; Bobby Magill at bmagill@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com