“Fifteen billion doesn’t go very far,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2, a nonpartisan group of business leaders pushing for environmental investments such as the lead pipe removal effort. “It doesn’t go far enough. Several studies have shown that it’s going to take $45 billion.”

That’s certainly the case. E2 released a study this week pegging the cost of the lead pipe removal at $45 billion. The Natural Resources Defense Council also says the massive undertaking would cost $45 billion, and the American Water Works Association says the total price tag could run to upwards of $60 billion.

By shortchanging the pipe replacement project, Congress could create another complicated situation, said Keefe, who spoke this week along with Bigley and Harrington on a webinar on the lead pipe issue, which was sponsored by E2.

“I wouldn’t want to be a member of Congress trying to pick who gets clean water and who doesn’t, but that’s what’s going to happen if we don’t fund this fully,” Keefe said.

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