The Environmental Protection Agency is promoting a new plan to reduce lead in drinking water even as a jilted former official argues the agency is trying to phase out any projects designed to tackle exposure.
The agency is in the process of overhauling a decades-old rule regulating levels of lead and copper in drinking water, EPA Interim Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement in October. His plan is in-keeping with that of his predecessor’s mission of revamping the country’s lead rules.
“We are in the process of completing several important actions to combat lead poisoning, such as publishing the new joint federal lead strategy, strengthening the dust-lead hazard standards, and overhauling the lead and copper rule for the first time in over two decades,” Wheeler said.
His announcement comes as Ruth Etzel, who is on leave from her role as director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection (OCHP), claims the agency is not taking such rules seriously. She was pulled from service following “serious” allegations leveled against her, according to recent reports.
Etzel attacked the “war on lead” initiative that former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced in 2017 response to what many in the media characterize as a lead crisis in Flint, Michigan. Pruitt was unable to follow through on that portion of his agenda after reports surfaced detailing his use of private jets.
“My sense is that the government has absolutely no intention of taking any action toward seriously changing lead in children’s environments,” Etzel said in an Oct. 15 interview on CBS. “It basically means that our kids will continue to be poisoned,” she added. (RELATED: ‘It’s Unfortunate’: EPA Says Jilted Official Is Spreading Fake News About Her Suspension)
The Obama administration kickstarted the revision process for the Lead and Copper Rule in 2010 and accelerated the effort following the Flint debacle, which started in 2014 when poorly treated drinking water corroded pipes and dramatically elevated lead levels in the city.
The rule was last revised in 1991. Its requirements include that water utilities put anti-corrosion additives into water and set a non-enforceable goal of zero lead in drinking water, a move many believe to be impossible without massive amounts of taxpayer dollars directed toward replacing water pipelines.
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