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Dingell, Upton Introduce Landmark PFAS Action Act

Comprehensive Legislation to Set National Drinking Water Standards, Designate as Hazardous Substance under Superfund Program and Clean Air Act, and List Under Clean Water Act

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-12) and Fred Upton (MI-6), along with 25 other members of Congress, introduced comprehensive, bipartisan legislation that aims to protect all Americans and our environment from harmful forever chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The package establishes a national drinking water standard for select PFAS chemicals, designates as hazardous to allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to clean up contaminated sites in Michigan and across the country, as well as list under the Clean Water Act, limits industrial discharges, and provides $200 million annually to assist water utilities and wastewater treatment. The pair announced the legislation during a virtual event with actor and environmental advocate Mark Ruffalo and Scott Faber of the Environmental Working Group.

“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 Rep. 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,” Rep. 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 Rep. 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.”

The PFAS Action Act would do the following to protect our air, land, and water from harmful PFAS contamination:

  • Require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (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 requires EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
  • Designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants within 180 days and requires EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
  • Require EPA to place discharge limits on industrial releases of PFAS and provides $200 million annually for wastewater treatment.
  • Prohibit unsafe incineration of PFAS wastes and places a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce.
  • Require comprehensive PFAS health testing.
  • Create a voluntary label for PFAS in cookware.

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 328 military sites across the United States have PFAS contamination and over 200 million Americans are drinking contaminated water. The Michigan PFAS Action Response Team has so far identified 162 sites across the state with PFAS contamination.

“We need deadlines to ensure that EPA will take the steps need to reduce PFAS releases into our and water, to filter PFAS out of tap water, and to clean up legacy PFAS pollution, especially near DOD facilities,” said Scott Faber, EWG’s Senior Vice President for Government Affairs. “We applaud Reps. Dingell and Upton for continuing to make PFAS pollution a priority.”

This legislation has been endorsed by: Environmental Working Group, Union of Concerned Scientists, Consumer Reports, Green Science Policy Institute, League of Conservation Voters, Environmental Law & Policy Center, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Food & Water Watch, Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, and Southern Environmental Law Center.

The following bipartisan members of Congress are original cosponsors of the PFAS Action Act of 2021: Dan Kildee (D-MI), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Bill Posey (R-FL), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), David Rouzer (R-NC), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ron Kind (D-WI), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Chellie Pingree, (D-ME), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Madeleine Dean (D-PA), Jesús G. “Chuy” García (D-IL), Andy Kim (D-NJ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Brendan F. Boyle (D-PA), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Linda T. Sánchez (D-CA).

PFAS chemicals are man-made chemicals that have so far been found in the drinking water of more than 2,000 communities. PFAS chemicals are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. These chemicals have been linked to harmful human health effects, including cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, and weaken immune systems. In January 2020, the U.S. House of Representative took bold action and passed the PFAS Action Act by a vote of 247-159, including 24 Republicans supporting the package. The text introduced today is largely identical to the version passed in the 116th Congress.

You can read a copy of the PFAS Action Act here.

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