Through loans, grants and tax credits, legislation would inject more than $70 billion in the next 10 years into water infrastructure and lead relief programs
Markey legislation, the CLEARR Act, provides assistance for disadvantaged communities, brings public water infrastructure into 21st century
WASHINGTON – Senate Democrats, led by U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), today introduced the Testing, Removal and Updated Evaluations of Lead Everywhere in America for Dramatic Enhancements that Restore Safety to Homes, Infrastructure and Pipes Act of 2016,or True LEADership Act, a comprehensive plan that recommits the federal government to a critical role in water infrastructure investment, lead remediation and the strong drinking water protections provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Incidents like the recent crisis in Flint, Michigan, underscore the dangers that can result when the safety of our drinking water and state of our water infrastructure is not made a priority. The True LEADership Act will have nationwide reach, addressing the scourge of lead-laden water and housing across the country. It also will improve our nation’s water infrastructure, while creating thousands of new jobs. Senator Markey’s legislation, the Contaminant and Lead Electronic Accounting and Reporting Requirements (CLEARR) for Drinking Water Act, would require the EPA to establish requirements for electronic reporting of water quality testing results. The CLEARR Act also focuses on disadvantaged communities by updating the requirements for repeat- or serious-offender water systems and creates a system so that residents can request in-home water quality tests from the EPA and receive the test results in an expedited manner.
“The color of your skin, the neighborhood you call home, and your net worth shouldn't determine your availability of clean and safe drinking water. The CLEARR Act helps ensure the EPA addresses drinking water concerns in disadvantaged communities by allowing the direct request of drinking water quality testing and by initiating partnerships with community and scientific organizations,” said Senator Markey, top Democrat on the Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight Subcommittee. “I am proud to stand with my Democratic colleagues to introduce a comprehensive legislative package aimed at bringing our water infrastructure into the 21st century, giving justice to the people of Flint, and helping to ensure a tragedy like this never happens again.”
A copy of Senator Markey’s CLEARR Act can be found HERE.
Background information on the CLEARR Act can be found HERE.
“We urgently need to minimize the risks to our communities and our children. Urban, rural and suburban neighborhoods – in every community in America – all rely on safe, clean water. Our health and our livelihoods will continue to be in danger if we do not act swiftly and decisively,” said Senator Cardin. “We can and must immediately do more as a country to better protect our waters and our kids, and the TRUE LEADership Act will help us do exactly that.”
Reforms included in the TRUE LEADership Act include:
· Increasing investments in our water infrastructure, particularly through a new grant program specifically designed for projects that reduce lead in tap water
· Establishing a mandatory, nationwide requirement for states to report elevated levels of lead in children
· Establishing mandatory testing and notification of lead in water systems
· Key reforms to HUD authorities and a new tax credit for homeowners to remove lead
· A new grant program for schools to aid children with the effects of lead poisoning
· Accelerates development of new water technologies
This new legislation, through a combination of loans, grants and tax credits, would inject over $70 billion over the next 10 years into water infrastructure and lead relief programs. For every public dollar we invest in upgrading our water infrastructure, our GDP grows by more than $6.
“The contaminated water crisis in Flint, Michigan is a tragic example of what happens when we focus too much on spending cuts and not enough on protecting families,” said Senator Durbin. “The crisis also exposed a nationwide lead problem that has not spared my home state of Illinois. Today’s legislation represents a comprehensive approach to updating national standards, putting the proper protections in place and allocating the necessary resources to address lead contamination.”
“The lead poisoning of children in Flint, Michigan, is a national tragedy. The American people have a right to expect safe, clean water when they turn on their faucets, and no child should be afraid of being poisoned in their own home,” said Senator Boxer. “That is why it is so important that my colleagues and I are introducing this comprehensive legislation today that addresses lead contaminated water, provides much-needed investment in our drinking water infrastructure, and will improve our response to a future drinking water crisis.”
“Lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy, but effective programs designed to reduce lead exposure and prevent water contamination have gone underfunded for years. This package of legislation includes needed reforms, but we also need to increase funding to help parents protect their children from lead hazards that may already be present in their homes,” said Senator Reed.
“If we begin to prioritize investments in infrastructure, if we choose to address outdated standards and upgrade obsolete equipment, we can give communities a fighting chance and protect children and families from lead contamination,” said Senator Menendez. “We should be doing better than relying on century-old pipes and decades-old standards. This package provides a comprehensive response to our national lead public health emergency: safeguarding our drinking water; updating our standards; putting people to work; repairing aging water systems; keeping lead out of our homes; helping our communities; and protecting our children and our future.”
“It is deplorable that in the year 2016, any American would have to fear lead poisoning from their drinking water,” said Senator Merkley. “This situation is absolutely unacceptable and demands immediate action. I’m proud to join with my colleagues to put forward a serious plan to get lead out of our water, including by making available affordable financing to update and repair drinking water systems across the country through my WIFIA program.”
Original co-sponsors of the TRUE LEADership Act include U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Ron Wyden (D-OR),Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.), Bob Casey, Jr. (D-Penn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.),Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Gary Peters (D-Mich.).