EWG news roundup (12/16): PFAS taints drinking water of more than 600,000 service members, California puts the kibosh on popular rooftop solar program and more

This week, EWG released an analysis that found that more than 600,000 service members at 116 military installations were annually served water with potentially unsafe levels of the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

On Thursday, the California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, voted to quash the state’s wildly successful rooftop solar program.

“What the CPUC did today is a disgrace and a disservice not only to Californians but to the nation,” said EWG President and Bay Area resident Ken Cook. “The commission’s decision will hammer the residential solar market in California and undercut Gov. Newsom’s pledge to be the nation’s leader in building a 100 percent clean energy grid.”

As water infrastructure ages and breaks down across the nation, water crises are becoming commonplace – especially as accelerating climate crises are pushing tap water systems to the brink. EWG took a deep dive into the state of these crises and how they historically and disproportionately affect communities of color.

And finally, with the holidays fast approaching, EWG broke down the food chemical risk lurking in candy canes and other peppermint candies.

Here’s some news you can use going into the weekend.

Children’s health

WSB- TV Atlanta: Georgia senator wants answers from retailers after learning lead was found in baby products

“It does not matter if somebody buys a high-end baby product in a high-end store or buys it from a dollar store. Everybody deserves the same protection. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for no lead in children’s products, but apparently, it is and that’s why we need oversight,” said Olga Naidenko, a scientist at the Environmental Working Group.

Secret PFAS on military bases

Bloomberg Law: DOD Report Finds 175,000 Military Personnel Exposed to PFAS

About 175,000 military personnel and veterans had been exposed to PFAS in drinking water in 2019 at levels exceeding a federal health advisory, according to a Pentagon report obtained and released by the Environmental Working Group.

E&E News: EPA overhauls chemical reviews to boost transparency

While EPA seeks to crack down on various contaminants, critics are ramping up their focus on other parts of the government. An analysis released this week by the Environmental Working Group found that more than 600,000 service members at 116 military installations were annually given water containing PFAS. Those numbers have cast more scrutiny on the Department of Defense, which is facing billions in cleanup fees relating to the chemicals.

Inside PFAS Policy: Environmentalists Charge DOD Downplayed PFAS Exposure Risks

A new Environmental Working Group (EWG) analysis of a Defense Department (DOD) assessment of the potential health risks to military personnel from exposure to PFAS at military bases concludes the Pentagon undercounted those exposed to the chemicals and failed to consider all possible health effects.

Military News: More than Half a Million Troops, Families, Exposed to 'Forever Chemicals,' Watchdog Group Says

But the Environmental Working Group, a watchdog association that tracks risks from those chemicals, said the number is higher: an estimated 640,000 people at 116 military installations.

California solar net metering

The Hill: California commission cuts paybacks to rooftop solar customers

Echoing these sentiments, Environmental Working Group president Ken Cook described the outcome as “a disgrace and disservice not only to Californians, but to the nation.” “It’s a complete retreat from California’s unrivaled position of leadership in the clean energy revolution,” Cook said.

Toxic Substances Control Act

Green Matters: The Case of Propylene Glycol: Here's Why Is It's Banned in Europe

It’s extremely hard to ban chemicals in the U.S., largely because of the possible backlash from industries, but also because the policies here just aren’t as strict as the E.U.. Under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), the EPA can limit the distribution of new chemicals, however, they are only given 90 days to determine the risk, per Environmental Working Group. 

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