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OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Groups sue EPA over 'backwards' lead rule | 12 states, green groups sue EPA over airline standards they deem insufficient | Biden taps Janet McCabe to serve as deputy at EPA

OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Groups sue EPA over 'backwards' lead rule | 12 states, green groups sue EPA over airline standards they deem insufficient | Biden taps Janet McCabe to serve as deputy at EPA
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TGIF! Welcome to Overnight Energy, The Hill's roundup of the latest energy and environment news. Please send tips and comments to Rebecca Beitsch at rbeitsch@thehill.com. Follow her on Twitter: @rebeccabeitsch. Reach Rachel Frazin at rfrazin@thehill.com or follow her on Twitter: @RachelFrazin.

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-LEAD IS THE LEAD: Environmental and civil rights groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over a new lead rule critics argue doesn't do enough to remove the lead pipes that contaminate drinking water. 

The December rule will speed notification to homeowners who are drinking lead-tainted water and kicks off more robust testing requirements at elementary schools and child care centers.

However, it does not force cities to move quickly to replace the estimated 6 million lead service lines across the country that deliver lead-tainted water into homes.

“This rule is a major disappointment,” Suzanne Novak, an Earthjustice attorney leading the case, said in a release. “Communities exposed to dangerous levels of lead in water expected the new rule to focus on removing lead pipes from the ground, the actual remedy to keep families safe. Instead, the new rule took a huge step backwards by slowing down the replacement rate of lead service lines. The Trump administration is failing the country once again, this time as it walks out the door. Children will continue to be poisoned, with no end in sight.”

The NAACP, United Parents Against Lead, Newburgh Clean Water Project and the Sierra Club all joined the suit, which petitions the court to review the legality of the rule.

The Natural Resources Defense Council also filed a similar but separate suit challenging the rule.

Cities will now be required to replace just 3 percent of lead service lines each year rather than the previous 7 percent. The EPA also will require cities to do the replacements for two years, rather than just one. The replacements are not required until a city detects high lead levels in 90 percent of tested taps.

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Critics say that means lead-tainted pipes will remain underground for another 30 years, leaving children particularly vulnerable to brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth and development and learning and behavioral problems.

The EPA did not immediately respond to request for comment from The Hill, but has previously argued the rule will help ensure that more pipes get replaced by requiring cities to do a census of the lead service lines within their system while still requiring cities to replace pipes even if later testing is below the action level. 

“While the old rule, theoretically, included a 7 percent replacement rate, it was riddled with loopholes and off ramps,” EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerEPA sued by environmental groups over Trump-era smog rule Environmental groups sue over federal permit for Virgin Islands refinery OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE said. “We only saw 1 percent being replaced. With our new requirement of 3 percent, we'll see three times the replacement rate under the old rule.”

Read more on the suit here.

-THE PLANE DRAIN: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is facing two legal challenges from environmental groups and a coalition of 12 states and Washington, D.C., over its new emissions standards for airlines.

The attorneys general and the groups argue that the first-ever U.S. standards, which are not expected to actually reduce emissions, are insufficient.

“The aviation industry is a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions, yet the EPA has set standards here that are the equivalent of doing nothing,” Xavier BecerraXavier BecerraTanden withdraws nomination as Biden budget chief Overnight Health Care: Biden says US will have enough vaccine for all adults by end of May | Biden calls on all states to vaccinate teachers by the end of March | Texas, Mississippi lift mask mandates Becerra tells Warren he will do 'thorough review' of executive actions on drug prices MORE, the attorney general of California, said in a statement. 

“No sector, certainly not one that is a major contributor of [greenhouse gasses], should be gifted a free pass from taking meaningful action to limit emissions,” added the attorney general. President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenIntercept bureau chief: minimum wage was not 'high priority' for Biden in COVID-19 relief South Carolina Senate adds firing squad as alternative execution method Obama alum Seth Harris to serve as Biden labor adviser: report MORE has chosen Becerra to lead the Department of Health and Human Services.  

The EPA declined to comment, saying it does not comment on pending litigation. 

Last month, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler touted the standards as part of the “Trump Administration’s pragmatic approach to climate action that has produced meaningful results without unnecessarily sacrificing American jobs or important domestic industries like our aircraft manufacturers.”

Read more on the suit here

SOME PERSONNEL NEWS:

-At EPA… The incoming Biden administration plans to tap Janet McCabe to serve as deputy administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the transition team announced early Friday.

McCabe previously served as the acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA for much of the Obama administration.

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Asking McCabe to rejoin the agency fits with Biden’s pattern of recalling insiders deeply familiar with institutions that critics have argued have reversed their mission during the Trump administration.

“These dedicated and distinguished leaders will bring the highest level of experience, integrity, and knowledge to bear on behalf of the American people,” Biden said in a release announcing McCabe’s selection alongside other picks.

“Each of them brings a deep respect for the civil servants who keep our republic running, as well as a keen understanding of how the government can and should work for all Americans.”

If confirmed, McCabe would be the deputy to Michael ReganMichael ReganCybersecurity and your water: Hacker attempted to poison Florida city's water supply OVERNIGHT ENERGY: US officially rejoins Paris climate agreement | Biden Energy Dept orders sweeping review of Trump energy rules | Texas power grid was 'seconds and minutes' from total failure, officials say Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed MORE, another EPA employee who served under the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

While leading EPA’s air office, McCabe helped develop the Clean Power Plan, one of President Obama’s signature efforts to reduce emissions from power plants that has since been tied up in court. 

-At FEMA… President-elect Joe Biden has selected Deanne Criswell to lead the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). 

Criswell is the first woman nominated to lead the agency, which is primarily responsible for responding to natural disasters, which have increased in both number and intensity amid climate change.

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She currently serves as the commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department, leading the coordination of the city's response to the coronavirus pandemic and other emergencies.

Criswell previously worked at FEMA under much of the Obama administration, where she was both the federal coordinating officer and a lead on the national incident management team.

Read more on McCabe here and Criswell here

ON TAP NEXT WEEK:

On Thursday, Department of Transportation secretary nominee Pete ButtigiegPete ButtigiegHarris pushes for support for cities in coronavirus relief package Exclusive: How Obama went to bat for Warren The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden vs. Trump, part II MORE will appear before the Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

Andrew Wheeler has some advice for Biden EPA, E&E News reports

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French energy giant Total splits from largest US oil lobby over climate policy, The Washington Examiner reports

Bundy to Biden: Stay away from my cattle, E&E News reports

ICYMI: Stories from Friday...

Biden taps Janet McCabe to serve as deputy at EPA

Biden taps Criswell as first woman to lead FEMA

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Groups sue EPA over 'backwards' lead rule

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12 states, green groups sue EPA over airline standards they deem insufficient