WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The trillion-dollar federal infrastructure bill that will be come law next week includes billions for improving water systems, including to get contaminants out of drinking water.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan called it “the largest federal investment every made in history in water infrastructure.”
He said it will pay to eliminate between 6 million and 10 million lead water pipes.
Money will also go toward helping utilities scrub PFAS from drinking water. The class of manmade chemicals used in all sorts of products have contaminated groundwater across the country and been linked to several ailments, including certain types of cancer.
But the activist Environmental Working Group says the nearly $10 billion for PFAS cleanup is merely a down payment to deal with a problem that it estimates may affect more than 200 million Americans.
Ahead of a Cabinet meeting at the White House Friday, Regan said the new money will help the EPA take more aggressive action.
“These resources will be dedicated to more health studies, a better scientific understanding… to developing career staff capabilities to develop regulations so that we’re protecting the public,” he said.
The EPA has released a road map outlining the Biden administration’s plan for dealing with PFAS, but environmentalists say the government should speed things up and set a nationwide standard for PFAS in drinking water.
It’s unclear whether or when the EPA may take that step. Business groups and some Republicans have urged more research on the chemicals first, but there is so far no such effort on a national stage.
President Joe Biden will sign the infrastructure package into law Monday.