Lead and Copper Rule Revision Effective Date Delayed; Round Two of Public Comment Ahead

Mar 18, 2021

(March 18, 2021) – In a Federal Register Notice from March 12, EPA is delaying the effective date of the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) from March 16, 2021 to June 17, 2021.

The move to delay comes after President Biden’s “Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis” directing federal agencies to review certain regulatory initiatives, such as the LCRR. The LCRR was listed on White House’s short list for agency actions to be reviewed for consistency with the EO and was explicitly included in the administration’s “Regulatory Freeze Pending Review” memorandum directing agency leads to consider postponing effective dates for regulations that have been published in the Federal Register but have not taken effect, like the LCRR.

Notably, the LCRR as written has not only drawn numerous court challenges which have now been consolidated in the DC Circuit, but it has also gained considerable attention from organizations and individuals requesting that EPA review the LCRR and initiate an entirely new rulemaking. With this recent Notice, EPA is reviewing the LCRR for any questions of fact, law, and policy and is also allowing an opportunity for public engagement and input.

EPA is expecting their review to be finished by December 2021 and it is expected that EPA’s review of the LCRR will be “deliberate and have the benefit of meaningful engagement with the affected public, including underserved communities disproportionately affected by exposure to lead.”

During the review of the LCRR, EPA will likely take a hard look at: 1) the requirement or adequate incentives for a public water system to replace lead service lines, 2) a public water system’s requirement to conduct an inventory of lead service lines, 3) the adequacy of the new “trigger level” of 10 parts per billion, 4) the flexibility granted to small water systems, 5) sampling requirements at schools and childcare facilities, and 6) a more reliable cost/benefit analysis.

Subsequent to the Notice, EPA also issued a Proposed Rule and re-opened the docket for public comment. Specifically, EPA is seeking feedback on further extending the effective date from June 17, 2021 to December 16, 2021 and extending the compliance date of January 16, 2024 to September 16, 2024.

NACWA will keep members updated on developments. If members have any questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs.

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