WASHINGTON – Today Reps. Debbie Dingell (D) and Fred Upton (R), both from Michigan, introduced comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to protect all Americans from the harmful “forever chemicals” known as PFAS. Scott Faber, senior vice president for government affairs for the Environmental Working Group, joined Dingell, Upton and environmental advocate Mark Ruffalo to announce the legislation during a virtual event.
The PFAS Action Act of 2021 creates a national drinking water standard for select PFAS chemicals, designates PFAS as hazardous substances to allow the Environmental Protection Agency to clean up contaminated sites, limits industrial discharges and provides $200 million annually to assist water utilities and wastewater treatment facilities.
“Let’s be very clear, PFAS is an urgent public health and environmental threat. And the number of contamination sites nationwide is growing at an alarming rate, including our military bases,” said Dingell. “The PFAS Action Act is a sweeping and comprehensive legislative package, which has strong bipartisan support to address the PFAS crisis in the United States. It’s time that these chemicals are properly addressed to protect the American people from the hazardous substances we know these forever chemicals are. Setting drinking water standards and designating PFAS as hazardous substances under the EPA’s Superfund program will accelerate the clean-up process in communities and at military facilities all across this nation.”
“The American people need the PFAS Action Act enacted into law without delay,” Dingell continued. “I look forward to working with the new administration, as well as all my colleagues on the Energy & Commerce Committee to get this passed the House again and enacted. And I call on all my Senate colleagues from both sides to make this legislation a true priority this Congress.”
“PFAS contamination represents a clear and present danger to Michigan families,” said Upton. “And, as Parchment made crystal clear, we need an all-hands-on-deck effort to protect both human health and our environment. This bipartisan legislation will ensure we’re treating PFAS as a hazardous chemical and giving our agencies the resources to clean up sites for the betterment of our communities.” In 2018, the drinking water supply of Parchment, Mich., was found to contain PFAS in an amount many times higher than the federal health advisory level.
To protect our air, land and water from harmful PFAS contamination, the PFAS Action Act would:
- Require the EPA to establish a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS within two years that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations
- Designate PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances within one year and require the EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years
- Designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants within 180 days and require the EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years
- Require the EPA to place discharge limits on industrial releases of PFAS and provide $200 million annually for wastewater treatment
- Prohibit unsafe incineration of PFAS wastes and place a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce
- Require comprehensive PFAS health testing
- Create a voluntary label for PFAS in cookware
“We need deadlines to ensure that the EPA will take the steps need to reduce PFAS releases into our air, land and water, to filter PFAS out of tap water and to clean up legacy PFAS pollution, especially near Department of Defense facilities,” said Faber. “We applaud Reps. Dingell and Upton for continuing to make PFAS pollution a priority.”
PFAS chemicals are man-made chemicals that have so far been found in the drinking water of more than 2,000 communities. They are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic. These chemicals have been linked to harmful human health effects, including cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, and weakened immune systems.
In January 2020, the House took bold action and passed the PFAS Action Act by a vote of 247 to 159. Twenty-four Republicans supported the package.
This bipartisan group of members of Congress are original cosponsors of the PFAS Action Act of 2021: Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Haley Stevens (D-Mich.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.), David Rouzer (R-N.C.), Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), Chris Pappas (D-N.H.), Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Gwen Moore (D-Wis.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Ron Kind (D-Wis.), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), Chellie Pingree, (D-Maine), Lori Trahan (D-Mass.), Madeleine Dean (D-Pa.), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-Ill.), Andy Kim (D-N.J.), Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Brendan F. Boyle (D-Pa.).
The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.