October 25, 2017

New Duckworth & Kildee Bill Would Help Protect Families from Lead-Contaminated Water


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (­­D-IL), the top Democrat on the Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee, today introduced the National Opportunity for Lead Exposure Accountability and Deterrence (NO LEAD) Act of 2017 to help ensure drinking water across our nation is clean and safe from lead and copper exposure. The legislation would create a lead-service-line inventory to help monitor contaminated service lines, ensure the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops a universal testing protocol and make sure the entire lead service line is replaced if water contamination is detected because partial replacement does not eliminate the risk of contamination. The bill would also help guide the EPA review of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to make lead testing reports more comprehensive and ensure reports are easily available to the public, serving to make clean drinking water more accessible and strengthen education on lead contamination. Lastly, the bill would lower the lead action level from 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb by 2020 and 5 ppb by 2026 to match world health standards. Representative Dan Kildee (D-MI) introduced companion legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.

"When families send their children to school or turn on their faucet at home, they should not have to worry about their drinking water being contaminated with a dangerous neurotoxin like lead." Duckworth said. "The threat of contaminated water is a national public health crisis in cities across the nation, including Chicago, Carbondale, Galesburg and East St. Louis, Illinois-and we have to do more to stop it. I will keep working to ensure every family in America - no matter where they live - has access to clean and safe drinking water, and I'm proud to introduce this bill to better protect our children from lead-contaminated water."

"The lead in water crisis that happened in my hometown of Flint cannot be allowed to happen elsewhere,"
Kildee said. "We must learn from the failures of state government that lead to the Flint water crisis and prevent a similar man-made tragedy. Updating the outdated Lead and Copper Rule will not only protect public health, it will restore public confidence in their water systems. I am proud to work with Senator Duckworth to introduce this legislation and work toward the goal of ensuring that all Americans do not have to worry about high levels of lead in their drinking water."

Today, Senator Duckworth and Congressman Kildee also sent a joint letter to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt detailing their concerns about the revised LCR containing fewer protections than the current rule. The letter comes as part of Duckworth and Kildee's efforts to ensure the EPA is being responsive to data gathered by their own scientists instead of capitulating to industry demands. The EPA is set to finalize the LCR at the end of next year.

Duckworth and Kildee have both been outspoken about the need to address failures in our public water systems. In June, they called upon the EPA to strengthen protections against lead poisoning in our nation's pipes, fittings and fixtures that supply drinking water. Duckworth has also introduced several pieces of legislation on lead in America's drinking water. Duckworth recently reintroduced the Get the Lead Out of Schools Act of 2017 with U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) to help ensure drinking water in schools across our nation is clean and safe from lead. She also introduced her new Recognizing the Environmental Gains in Overcoming Negligence (REGION) Act to prevent the closure of regional EPA offices, which would protect thousands of jobs while supporting efforts to ensure clean drinking water for children. Duckworth has also been critical of the Trump administration's efforts to roll back drinking water protections and vocal about the need to strengthen initiatives to prevent lead contamination.

The following stakeholders have endorsed the NO LEAD Act: American Association of Pediatrics, EarthJustice, Food and Water Watch, Green Latinos, Dr. Marc Edwards, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council Parents for Nontoxic Alternatives and the Sierra Club.