April 12, 2021
Re: National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Proposed Lead and Copper Rule Revisions; Delay of Effective and Compliance Dates [EPA–HQ–OW–2017–0300; FRL–10021–00–OW]
Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund respectfully submit these comments regarding the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Proposed Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR); Delay of Effective and Compliance dates.
We agree with EPA that lead exposure, including through drinking water, is a public health issue of paramount importance. We support the proposal to extend the effective date of the LCRR to December 16, 2021 and to extend the compliance date to September 16, 2024. Extension of the effective date and compliance date is necessary to enable EPA to consider stakeholder input and to conduct a meaningful review of revisions to this critical and complex regulation.
EPA has asked for comment on the duration of the effective and compliance date extensions. We agree with EPA that stakeholders have identified critical issues that warrant “careful and considerate” review of the rule. Extension of the effective and compliance dates to December 16, 2021 and January 16, 2024 respectively is in line with EPA’s commitment to evaluate the rule and determine whether to initiate a process to revise components of the rule.
EPA also asked for comment on whether the effective and compliance date extensions should apply to the entire LCRR or to components of it. We think that these extensions should apply to all components of the rule and that different effective and compliance dates for certain parts of the rule would be likely to be an unworkable option. The LCRR components are interrelated, so review and evaluation of one component are likely to impact other components.
We appreciate the opportunity to engage in EPA’s solicitation of stakeholder input. Our comments on EPA’s 2019 proposed LCR Revisions remain largely relevant. We draw attention to two priority issues:
EPA should require full lead service line replacement by all regulated water systems. If anything, there is more reason now than even at the time we submitted our February 2020 comments for EPA to seize the opportunity to address this largest source of lead in drinking water. As we noted in our comments during the EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) review of the LCRR in May 2020, analysis of low-level lead exposure and cardiovascular disease that was not included in EPA consideration of the LCRR would add over $200 billion in health benefits from lead service line replacement. In numerous ways, the LCRR suggests that fully replacing lead service lines is an appropriate goal and is achievable. Yet EPA stopped short of requiring all lead service lines to be fully replaced
EPA should require water systems to cover the cost of replacement regardless of ownership or whether the line is located under private or public property. The environmental justice review commissioned by EPA as part of the rulemaking process found that LCRR provisions that presume customers must pay for things, including covering part of the cost of lead service line replacement, will leave low-income people with disproportionately higher health risks. The potential for the benefits of full lead service line replacement to be inequitably distributed is also not consistent with the intent of the 1994 Executive Order on Environmental Justice if customers are required to cover these costs because of the inevitable uneven distribution of the long-term benefit of full LSL replacement.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this proposal.
 Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund comments on Proposed Lead and Copper Rule Revisions, February 2020. https://www.cleanwateraction.org/publications/clean-water-action-comments-epas-proposed-revisions-safe-drinking-water-acts-lead-and
 Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund comments on the EPA Science Advisory Board review of the proposed LCCR, May 2020. https://www.cleanwateraction.org/publications/clean-water-action-clean-water-fund-comments-lead-and-copper-rule-sab
 Abt Associates, Environmental Justice Analysis for the Proposed Lead and Copper Rule Revisions, October 22, 2019, Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0300-0008
 Executive Order 12898 (59 FR 7629, February 16, 1994), https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations/summary-executive-order-12898-federal-actions-address-environmental-justice