As Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) today questioned Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan on his agency’s plans to respond the growing issue of PFAS, or forever chemicals.
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 weakened immune systems.
“You also brought up the very important topic of PFAS contamination, which is such a critical issue and we continue to discover more and more about the impacts of PFAS in food and water and other areas as well. There is a significant amount of money to address research, also to support regulatory standards for drinking water, and that’s been an important issue for this committee. We’ve invested a little over $100 million at EPA towards those efforts. Can you talk a little more about how you intend to use these resources, but also specifically what you have planned for drinking water infrastructure?” Chair Pingree asked EPA Administrator Regan who said the agency is seeking resources for PFAS cleanup nationwide and is in the early stages of developing PFAS drinking water standards.
Among her questions to Administrator Regan, Pingree also asked him to discuss his agency’s plans to combat climate change, EPA’s work to promote environmental justice, and how the FY22 budget request and the American Jobs Plan will invest in environmental and public health infrastructure.
“From my perspective, compared to what we have seen these past several years, this is a breath of fresh air. After four painful years, we will once again have senior leaders at the Environmental Protection Agency who see environmental protection as part of the Agency’s job,” said Chair Pingree in her opening statement.
As Chair, Pingree oversees the Environmental Protection Agency and works to secure funding for the EPA to conduct research to understand the health effects of PFAS, as well as develop regulatory standards for drinking water and site cleanups, in the appropriations process. Her home state of Maine has reported more than 30,000 records of PFAS at close to 250 sites across the state, including the former Brunswick Naval Air Station, the former Loring Air Force Base in Aroostook County, and the Kennebunkport, Kennebunk, and Wells Water District.
Video of Chair Pingree’s opening statement is available for download here. Video of Chair Pingree’s questions to Administrator Regan and his responses are available here and here.