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Dingell, Fitzpatrick, Ryan Introduce PFAS Action Act

Today, Representatives Debbie Dingell (MI-06), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Pat Ryan (NY-18), along with 13 additional members of Congress, introduced comprehensive, bipartisan legislation to protect Americans and the environment from harmful forever chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bill would establish a national drinking water standard for select PFAS chemicals, accelerate designation of PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances, which EPA has recently proposed, limit industrial discharge, and provide $200 million annually to assist water utilities and wastewater treatment, among other provisions.

PFAS chemicals are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic—and can be found in some level in nearly everyone’s bodies today. These chemicals have been linked to harmful human health effects, including increased cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes, decreases in infant birth weights, and increased risk of certain cancers.

“PFAS is an urgent public health and environmental threat. In Michigan we know this too well, and the number of contamination sites nationwide is growing at an alarming rate, including our military bases,” said Congresswoman Dingell. “The PFAS Action Act takes a comprehensive approach to tackle this crisis and protect the American people from the long-term dangers that forever chemicals pose. Setting drinking water standards, designating PFAS as hazardous substances under the EPA’s Superfund program, limiting industrial discharge and providing funding for water treatment will support the clean-up process in communities across this nation and prevent the further spread of forever chemicals. The House has passed this bill twice with strong bipartisan support and my hope is this Congress we can finally get it done.”

“It is our responsibility to continue to seriously address the public health threat of per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals holistically, and the bipartisan PFAS Action Act is another step in the right direction,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Congressional PFAS Task Force. “I am proud to champion this comprehensive approach to remove ‘forever chemicals’ from our water and wastewater systems, restrict future PFAS leakage and emissions, and reduce the impact of contamination by establishing a national drinking water standard. For our communities today and for the next generation of Americans, we must identify and halt the harms of these hazardous substances.”

“For too long, big corporations have pumped toxic chemicals into our air and water, making billions in profits at the expense of American families’ health and safety. I refuse to let your kids or mine be exposed to these toxins any longer,” said Congressman Ryan. “I’m proud to help lead this comprehensive PFAS reform and will continue to push relentlessly until it becomes law.”

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

  • Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a national drinking water standard for PFOA, PFOS and four other PFAS chemicals that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations. This provision aligns with EPA’s recent national drinking water standard proposal.
  • Accelerate designation of PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances, which EPA has recently proposed, and requires EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years. The bill reaffirms that EPA has existing authority to use their discretion regarding liability under CERCLA and rejects liability exemptions for specific industries in line with the introduced bill last Congress.
  • Designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants within 180 days and require 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 place a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce.
  • Require comprehensive PFAS health testing.
  • Create a voluntary label for PFAS in cookware.
  • Assist schools and childcare facilities with addressing PFAS contamination in drinking water.
  • Require manufacturers to provide reference standards for PFAS in order to help the agency accurately identify and act faster to mitigate the impact of dangerous forever chemicals.

The bill is cosponsored by Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Ranking Member Rick Larsen, and Representatives Dan Kildee, John Sarbanes, Brendan Boyle, Chris Pappas, Ro Khanna, Haley Stevens, Grace Napolitano, Paul Tonko, Annie Kuster, Darren Soto, and Lizzie Fletcher.

The PFAS Action Act is endorsed by Michigan League of Conservation Voters, Green Science Policy Institute, Environmental Working Group, Consumer Reports, Clean Water Action/Clean Water Fund, League of Conservation Voters, Less Cancer, Sierra Club, EarthJustice, Southern Environmental Law Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, Natural Resources Defense Council, Toxic-Free Future (Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families), National Wildlife Federation, Food & Water Watch, Environmental Defense Fund Action, and Environmental Law & Policy Center.

“The PFAS Action Act is a critical step in tackling the growing PFAS crisis that is jeopardizing the health and safety of communities all across the country, especially the health of vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and low wealth communities,” said Madeleine Foote, Deputy Legislative Director for the League of Conservation Voters. “For decades, chemical companies have known about and hidden the dangers of PFAS, but this legislation will finally begin to hold them accountable while also safeguarding our communities by strengthening standards for drinking water, accelerating hazardous substance designations, and designating hazardous air pollutants, among other important measures. We greatly appreciate Representatives Debbie Dingell, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Pat Ryan for leading this legislation and urge Congress to quickly pass it to ensure every family has access to clean air, safe water, and a healthy environment.”

“Toxic forever chemicals pose a clear and present danger to tens of millions of people living across America,” said Erik D. Olson, senior strategic director for health at Natural Resources Defense Council. “We’re all walking around with these toxics in our bodies and were never asked if we wanted to be exposed. The PFAS Action Act would finally take this five-alarm fire seriously by requiring the government to take meaningful action to reduce this toxic threat.”

“Today’s bill would put science to work protecting people’s health and safety,” said Dr. Jennifer Jones, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “With a stronger mandate from Congress, the EPA would be obligated to move quickly to make sure that rampant PFAS pollution will one day be a thing of the past. This bill would make a real difference for communities across the country who deserve clean water, clean air, and smart, science-based public health protections.”

"We have a big PFAS problem in Michigan,” said Christy McGillivray, Sierra Club Michigan Legislative and Political Director. “Industry continues to release PFAS into our air and water, contaminating our farmland and hurting human health and wildlife. Federal agencies are moving too slowly, which is why Sierra Club Michigan applauds this bipartisan effort."

"PFAS contamination continues to threaten the health of communities across the country. The PFAS Action Act is an important step towards reducing PFAS pollution in our drinking water, air, and soil and ensuring that polluters bear the burden and cost of PFAS contamination, not the families and communities nearby and downstream," said Kelly Moser, Southern Environmental Law Center's Water Program Leader. "We commend Representatives Debbie Dingell, Brian Fitzpatrick, and Pat Ryan for reintroducing this bill to safeguard public health and the environment from PFAS pollution."

"PFAS in our water, land, and air have put the health of communities and wildlife populations at risk across the country. People and wildlife should be able to drink clean water, breathe clean air, and consume food free of these toxic chemicals,” said Rebecca Meuninck, Regional Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center. “The National Wildlife Federation commends Representatives Dingell, Fitzpatrick, and Ryan for reintroducing this flagship policy to address the PFAS crisis. The PFAS Action Act would establish health-based drinking water standards, prevent new problematic PFAS from use in commerce, and accelerate clean up of PFAS sites to protect people and wildlife."

"Rep. Dingell's bipartisan PFAS Action Act will go a long way towards protecting people and the planet from some of the most harmful chemicals in commerce,” said Arlene Blum, Executive Director of Green Science Policy Institute. “These common-sense measures should help the EPA to stem the damage caused by forever chemicals and safeguard the health of future generations."

“All the evidence-based science is well documented relative to PFAS and cancer,” said Bill Couzens, Founder and President of Less Cancer. “This legislation provides an opportunity to lower cancer risks and save lives. Thank you legislators for working together for the greater good of all, now and for next generations to come.”

“Toxic PFAS are contaminating our air, water, and land, and directly impact our health and well-being,” said Earthjustice Legislative Counsel Christine Santillana. “The PFAS Action Act would take steps to help minimize pollution and keep our communities safe. We thank Reps. Dingell, Ryan, and Fitzpatrick for prioritizing this important issue, and continuing to push federal agencies to use their authority to regulate these toxic 'forever chemicals'.”

“This legislation will establish the regulations, definitions, and polluter accountability that’s absolutely necessary to finally help rein in the pervasive PFAS pollution crisis that is impacting virtually every corner of our country,” said Mary Grant, Public Water for All Campaign Director at Food & Water Watch. “We applaud Reps. Dingell, Fitzpatrick, and Ryan for their leadership on this issue, and we will support these bipartisan sponsors to help make this critical PFAS legislation the law of the land.”

“Unfortunately, PFAS contamination continues to impact the drinking water of far too many Americans," said Jessica Hernandez, Policy Director for Environmental Working Group. "The deadlines set in this bill are critical to ensure the EPA takes the necessary steps to turn off the tap of PFAS pollution; move expeditiously to reduce PFAS releases into our air, water and land; and to clean up legacy PFAS pollution. We applaud Reps. Debbie Dingell, Brian Fitzpatrick and Pat Ryan for their leadership and for continuing to make cleaning up PFAS pollution a priority.”

View the full text of the bill here.

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