Pingree, Congressional PFAS Task Force Outline Priorities for Biden Administration
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today joined 132 bipartisan members of Congress in sending a letter to the Biden administration outlining actions they should take to address harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals. The letter includes actions the administration can take to protect communities from PFAS immediately, including creating a nationwide drinking water standard for PFAS in drinking water and listing PFAS as a hazardous substance to clean up the harmful chemicals and make the polluters pay, not taxpayers.
“According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 200 million Americans likely have drinking water and food contaminated with PFAS chemicals. Nevertheless, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Defense have been slow to address the risks posed by PFAS. There are currently no limits on PFAS releases and uses and no requirement to clean up PFAS contamination. To address the growing PFAS pollution crisis, we urge you to take immediate steps to reduce PFAS releases, phase out non-essential uses of PFAS in everyday products, and clean up legacy PFAS pollution,” said the lawmakers in their letter.
Pingree has long been a vocal advocate for the cleanup and regulation of PFAS chemicals, commonly known as “forever chemicals.” Pingree serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, where she oversees the Environmental Protection Agency.
Below is the full text of the letter:
Dear President Biden:
We were pleased that you included action to protect communities from harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in your campaign platform. PFAS chemicals are prevalent in communities across the country and pose serious health problems for millions of Americans, including thyroid, kidney, liver, heart and reproductive problems.
As the world awaits a widely-available COVID-19 vaccine, studies have shown that PFAS chemicals could also have adverse effects that make the vaccine less effective.
Since its inception, the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force has been working on bipartisan solutions to protect communities from harmful PFAS chemicals. We look forward to working with the Biden administration on policies to continue this work. Below are some specific areas of focus that we would like to work with you.
According to the Environmental Working Group, more than 200 million Americans likely have drinking water and food contaminated with PFAS chemicals. Nevertheless, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Department of Defense (DOD) have been slow to address the risks posed by PFAS. There are currently no limits on PFAS releases and uses and no requirement to clean up PFAS contamination.
To address the growing PFAS pollution crisis, we urge you to take immediate steps to reduce PFAS releases, phase out non-essential uses of PFAS in everyday products, and clean up legacy PFAS pollution. We urge your administration to:
· Direct the EPA to quickly finalize a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS.
· Direct EPA to quickly restrict industrial releases of PFAS into the air and water by using the tools provided by the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and to expand reporting of these releases through the Toxic Release Inventory.
· Direct the EPA to immediately designate two types of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, as “hazardous substances” under CERCLA and to revise groundwater clean-up standards.
· Hold regular meetings with members of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force to share information and receive updates on your administration’s PFAS-related work. We would welcome agency participation from EPA, FDA and DOD.
· Direct FDA and EPA to phase out non-essential use of PFAS in food packaging, cosmetics, sunscreens and other household projects, and direct EPA to amend the Significant New Use Rule to address all imports.
· Direct the DOD to accelerate efforts to end the use of fire-fighting foam made with PFAS, to impose a moratorium on the incineration of legacy foam and accelerate PFAS clean-up at DOD and Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) installations.
· Direct the EPA to immediately place a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS chemicals and to use all of use tools provided by the Toxic Substances Control Act to assess the risks posed by PFAS.
· Direct the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) to support efforts to clean up PFAS pollution near fire training centers.
· Direct the DOD to test for PFAS in the blood of all service members and direct the EPA to test and report on the presence of PFAS biosolids.
These actions would help protect our communities, and especially our brave men and women in our armed services and firefighters, from these harmful chemicals.
We look forward to working with you in Congress on these critical issues.