Jan 31, 2023 - News

Illinois snubbed on federal lead removal help — again

lead pipe

A lead pipe removed from a home in Gary, Indiana. Photo: Monica Eng/Axios

The Environmental Protection Agency announced a new program last week to speed up toxic lead line removal in four states, but Illinois — which suffers from the worst lead pipe problems in the nation — isn't one of them.

Why it matters: This isn't the first time we've been mysteriously snubbed when it comes to getting federal help for lead removal.

What's happening: The new pilot program will help communities in Wisconsin, Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania to identify lead lines that should be removed and to access funds for their replacement.

  • Local leaders say Illinois needs more attention.

What they're saying: "Illinois bears the greatest lead service line burden and deserves to be a pilot state. That it has not been included is disappointing," Rep. Brad Schneider said in a press statement Monday.

  • "However, I appreciate the administration listening to Congress's bipartisan advocacy — aiming to replace lead service lines in a fairer way," the Illinois Democrat said, "and I am hopeful that their new methods will benefit Illinois down the road."

The other side: EPA officials didn't respond to multiple requests to explain Illinois' exclusion from the program.

  • The agency also declined to say whether it will use an updated formula before it allocates the next round of funds.

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