At Energy & Commerce Hearing, Rush Questions Witnesses on Importance of Replacing Lead Pipelines

Mar 22, 2021
Press Release
ICYMI: 1 in 8 Illinoisans Live in a Community Where Lead Was Found in Tap Water in the Past Six Years

WASHINGTON — Today at a House Committee on Energy & Commerce hearing titled, “LIFT America: Revitalizing Our Nation’s Infrastructure and Economy,” U.S. Representative Bobby L. Rush (D-Ill.), Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, questioned witnesses about the importance of replacing lead pipelines. Rush’s Q&A comes after a recent analysis by the Chicago Tribune found that Illinois has more service lines made of toxic metal than any other state. Rush also highlighted how the LIFT America Act will invest in a clean energy economy with high-paying jobs.  

A transcript of Rush’s Q&A with Ernest Moniz, former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, and Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is below: 

RUSH: Thank you Mr. Chairman, and hello to our witnesses. Good to see you all again. Dr. Moniz, Dr. Frieden, Commissioner O’Rielly and Commissioner Wheeler, so good to see you all again. And you all have really passed in your ability to testify today. And I want to thank you so much for your fine testimony.  

Dr. Frieden, in a shocking analysis, the Chicago Tribune recently found that “more than 8 of every 10 Illinoisans live in a community where brain-damaging lead was found in the tap water of a least one home during the past six years.”  The analysis also found that Illinois has more service lines made of toxic metal than any other state. Mr. Chairman, I ask for unanimous consent to insert an article from the Chicago Tribune explaining the analysis into the record.  

PALLONE: Without objection, so ordered.

RUSH: Fortunately, the LIFT America Act includes $4.5 billion for lead service line replacement, with a priority on disadvantaged and environmental justice communities.  Dr. Frieden, can you speak to the reasons why replacing these pipes should be a top priority for public health and safety?

FRIEDAN: Thank you very much Congressman, and thanks for raising the issue. Lead poisoning remains a significant problem, not just for kids but also for adults. There’s growing evidence that it increases blood pressure and has other health effects among adults. It’s a toxic chemical and we want to get it out of our environment. That’s going to take work. Water is one of the sources, as we’ve done a better job controlling lead paint, what we’re seeing is the residual sources are showing up, and that includes lead service lines. 

Lead service lines and lead poisoning have long-term negative consequences on a child’s development. And the modeling studies suggest that those consequences have very large economic and educational impacts in terms of the productive capacity of that individuals, the societal costs that they will contribute to or require in their lives. So, eliminating lead positioning is not only an inspiring goal, but it’s possible, and efforts to do that by addressing all of the sources, including water, are important.

RUSH: Thank you. Secretary Moniz, today’s legislation also invests over $100 billion in clean energy, energy efficiency, clean ports, smart communities, and electric vehicles.  Investments of this magnitude, and in these areas, support our goal of creating a cleaner economy with high-quality, good-paying jobs. We are fortunate to welcome Secretary Moniz back to the Committee for this very discussion. 

Secretary Moniz, during your recent tenure at DOE, you established the USEER (U.S. Energy Employment) Report. And I want to thank you for – and the Energy Futures Initiative – for producing this valuable report. Considering your work with the USEER, would you please describe the current state of the energy job market and how investments of this variety will support job creation?

MONIZ: Thank you Congressman Rush, and it’s great to see you again. First of all, in doing five annual Energy Employment Reports, pre-COVID, a very important result is that we found that job growth in the energy sector was double the pace of job growth in the economy as a whole. So clearly, there’s a high leverage here in clean energy to also try to dig ourselves out of the jobs hole that we still have from the COVID period. 

Unfortunately, we don’t yet have the data for 2020, and I’m hoping that the new administration is now going to get that project going because, frankly, let’s say it feel through the cracks in the last administration. But getting a re-baselining for 2020 when we had the COVID impact will be very, very important. And looking at the patterns of who lost jobs, where jobs were lost. For example, in energy efficiency, we know that three years’ worth of job loss – of job gains, excuse me – were lost in that one year. So I’m hoping that that exercise will happen very, very soon to collect the data from 2020. And by the way, and the Congress has spoken clearly in terms of appropriating funds to the DOE specifically to execute that job.

RUSH: I yield back.

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