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Newburgh Clean Water Project v. EPA

In 2021, the EPA revised a regulation addressing the amount of lead and copper permitted in drinking water. Various private parties and states sought judicial review, arguing that the EPA acted arbitrarily by failing to explain adequately its decision not to adopt more aggressive measures to eliminate lead from public water systems.

On behalf of Alaska Community Action on Toxics, Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, Healthy Babies Bright Futures, Physicians for Social Responsibility, SF Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility, and Women for a Healthy Environment, Public Citizen filed an amicus brief in support of the challengers. The amicus brief explained that the EPA had adopted its current framework for treating lead in drinking water in 1991, and that more recent medical research demonstrates an association between low lead levels and harms to human health, especially to the health of children. The brief explained that, in light of this more complete medical understanding, the EPA had an obligation to revamp its rule so that it completely eliminated the problem of lead in drinking water, and that the current rule failed to achieve that objective.

The EPA later informed the court it was undertaking a new rulemaking to address the issues raised in the petition. The court then issued an order holding the case in abeyance pending the outcome of the rulemaking.