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Biden touts lead pipe replacement efforts in North Carolina

President Joe Biden traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina, on Thursday to tout the administration’s water infrastructure investments in a key swing state as the election season draws nearer.

Biden focused the majority of his remarks on efforts to replace lead water pipes that remain in use around the country despite health concerns associated with lead leaking into drinking water. Funding to address the issue was included in both the bipartisan infrastructure law and the American Rescue Plan, a $1.9 trillion stimulus package Democrats approved along party-lines. Both laws were enacted in 2021.

“Today, nine million lead service lines connect water mains to our homes, schools, daycare centers, businesses,” Biden said. “That includes some 300,000 lead service lines in North Carolina alone. The cost to replace them is consequential, but too many families only learn the threat to their children after they get sick.” 

“You know, this is for some time why I’m determined, I’m determined to fix it. We’re finally moving. Until the United States of America, God love us, deals with this – how can we say we’re a leading nation in the world, for God’s sake we’re better than this,” Biden added.

BIDEN ADMINISTRATION PROPOSES TO REQUIRE LEAD PIPES TO BE REPLACED WITHIN 10 YEARS

President Joe Biden Lead Pipes

President Joe Biden touted his administration’s efforts to replace hazardous lead pipes at an event in Wilmington, North Carolina, on May 2, 2024. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“These lead lines are tough and durable and they don’t rust, but we’ve long since learned they leak poisonous toxins into our water,” the president explained. “The science is clear – lead service lines pose severe health risks, damaging the brain and kidneys. In children especially, they stunt growth, slow learning and cause lasting brain damage.”

“One study shows when you reduce lead exposure for children, their test scores actually improve in school as much as if you were to reduce class size by a third at one-tenth the cost of doing that. It pays off across the board,” he added.

BIDEN ANNOUNCES FRESH ROUND OF $6.1 BILLION IN STUDENT LOAN HANDOUTS, BRINGS TOTAL GIVEN TO $160 BILLION

President Joe Biden Lead Pipes

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on water infrastructure at the Wilmington Convention Center in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Thursday, May 2, 2024. (Photographer: Cornell Watson/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

“Let me say what I’ve said many times before, there’s no – no – safe level of lead exposure, none. The only way forward is to replace every lead service line that connects Americans to clean water. That’s why Kamala and I are making sure this administration is the first ever to set out to do it, and we’re going to get it done,” Biden said.

The White House published a press release Thursday that noted that the administration’s $3 billion in funding to replace toxic lead pipes comes as part of a broader $15 billion in funding for that purpose under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that came from the bipartisan infrastructure law.

BIDEN VOWS TO LET TRUMP-ERA TAX CUTS EXPIRE NEXT YEAR, MEANING HIGHER RATES FOR MANY

Lead Pipe Replacement

Congress approved billions of dollars in funding for the replacement of lead pipes around the country. (Antonio Pere/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images / Getty Images)

It noted that the bipartisan infrastructure law included over $50 billion in funding for water infrastructure, while the American Rescue Plan provided over $20 billion in water infrastructure for state and local governments slated for use on water infrastructure projects.

Further, the White House said the state of North Carolina has used $150 million from the American Rescue Plan to test for and remove lead hazards in schools and daycare centers around the state.

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The White House said that with today’s announcement of $3 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure law being allocated to lead pipe replacement projects, the first such project funded under the law began in the city of Wilmington.

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