FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 7, 2024
Contact: Alicia Mercedes, firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON – This week, the public comment period closed for the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI). The EPA-led initiative seeks to address the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis that has plagued Black communities for decades. Throughout the public comment period, NAACP led the charge, ensuring that their local State Conferences, fellow advocates, and concerned citizens engaged in this pivotal process. This included a letter, sent by the NAACP along with 20 environmental advocacy groups, including the Sierra Club, Hip Hop Caucus, Black Millenials 4 Flint, National Wildlife Federation, and more. Over 100,000 comments were submitted to the EPA from local and national environmental, public health, and community advocacy groups in support of a strong LCRI.
Abre' Conner, Director of Environmental and Climate Justice shared the following statement:
"The LCR revisions are an opportunity to ensure that safe drinking water is finally prioritized in Black and other historically excluded communities. For the first time, we will see actual timelines to ensure that toxic pipes that disproportionately impact Black communities have funding and guidelines for removal. Black youth continue to bear the brunt of a less than speedy process for this needed change.
However, this is also an opportunity for the EPA to recognize that some of the framing will likely exacerbate harms such as lack of testing and filters and leaving certain communities out of the accountability structure to remove lead pipes in ten years. Moreover, our communities cannot be saddled with the cost of fixing water infrastructure issues they did not cause. We look forward to the EPA reviewing comments from the NAACP and its allies to ensure robust improvements for the revisions."
The NAACP also engaged their State Conferences, and local branches and units to submit comments. NAACP State Conferences from Michigan, Mississippi, Florida, New York, Texas, South Carolina, California-Hawaii, West Virginia, Illinois, Virginia, Indiana, Ohio, and Missouri all submitted comments for consideration.
While the proposed updates to the Lead and Copper Rule are an essential step to ensure safe drinking water for all, there is still more work to be done to protect families from lead-contaminated water. Many advocates urged that the rule should be strengthened to better protect impacted communities by requiring water utilities to take on the cost of lead service line replacement. The proposed rule also falls short on protections for schools and daycares, where lead contamination is widespread, due primarily to plumbing, fountains and faucets made with the toxic metal.
The NAACP has, for decades, fought for the environmental and climate justice for Americans within disenfranchised communities and believes the Biden Administration should stay firm on their commitments to environmental justice for Black voters. Finalizing a strong LCRI is an opportunity to provide states with the mandate they need to get lead out of impacted communities.
For more information on the NAACP's environmental and climate justice work, visit our website.
The NAACP advocates, agitates, and litigates for the civil rights due to Black America. Our legacy is built on the foundation of grassroots activism by the biggest civil rights pioneers of the 20th century and is sustained by 21st century activists. From classrooms and courtrooms to city halls and Congress, our network of members across the country works to secure the social and political power that will end race-based discrimination. That work is rooted in racial equity, civic engagement, and supportive policies and institutions for all marginalized people. We are committed to a world without racism where Black people enjoy equitable opportunities in thriving communities.
NOTE: The Legal Defense Fund – also referred to as the NAACP-LDF - was founded in 1940 as a part of the NAACP, but now operates as a completely separate entity.