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Dingell: Safe Drinking Water is a Human Right

Washington, July 28, 2020

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) continued her push to strengthen protections for safe drinking water.

During an Energy and Commerce hearing in the Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, Dingell pushed for improved standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the establishment of a national drinking water standard for PFAS.

“Access to clean and safe drinking water is fundamental human right—this has become even clearer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dingell. “At its core, the Safe Drinking Water Act was designed to ensure everyone is afforded this human right. But over recent years it has become evident that the standard setting process is not working—this includes for mitigating new, harmful emerging contaminant, like PFAS. It is time we improve the standard setting process to one that works efficiently and in timely manner, and that is health based and covers vulnerable populations.”

Video of the hearing is available here.

Dingell is a leader in Congress on addressing PFAS. Earlier this year, the House passed with bipartisan support the Dingell PFAS Action Act, which would list select PFAS chemicals – PFOA and PFOS – as hazardous substances within one year under the Superfund program to direct federal resources to clean up contaminated sites and limit their spread. It would also require EPA to make a determination on all remaining PFAS chemicals within five years.

Also Tuesday, Senator Jeff Merkely (D-OR) introduced companion legislation to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Dingell's Emergency Water is a Human Right Act. The legislation prohibits water shutoffs and ensure water affordability protections for low-income households during the COVID-19 national emergency. Prior to the crisis, an estimate 15 million people in the United States had experienced a water shut off, especially in communities with higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and people of color. The Tlaib-Dingell bill in the House has 67 cosponsors in the House. The House-passed Heroes Act includes the Emergency Water is a Human Right Act. 

“Access to clean water is a human right,” said Dingell. “At a time when people need to stay home and keep up washing their hands and cleaning, every family must have access to running water in their homes. Many communities and states have stepped up to not turn off water, but we must ensure a comprehensive federal ban on water shutoffs.”

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