Press Release

Gillibrand Announces New Legislation To Finally Stop Polluters From Contaminating New York Waterways With Toxic Levels Of PFAS

Nov 12, 2019

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced her new legislation to finally stop manufacturers and other polluters from contaminating New York waterways with toxic levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). There is currently no limit to how much PFAS polluters can release into the environment, putting the health and safety of communities across New York at risk. This also places the burden of costly clean-up efforts after contamination has occurred on the communities themselves, rather than on the companies responsible for the contamination. Gillibrand’s bill, the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, would help stop toxic levels of PFAS contamination from entering water sources in the first place by regulating PFAS under the Clean Water Act.

“New Yorkers should be able to trust their water is safe, but far too many communities across the state have had their water supplies polluted by toxic PFAS chemicals. We shouldn’t be waiting for PFAS to contaminate our water sources, and need to do more to protect New Yorkers,” said Senator Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “That’s why I am proud to announce the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which would prevent polluters from contaminating our waterways with toxic levels of PFAS in the first place. My legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency to review all sources of PFAS chemicals and use that information to limit PFAS chemicals from entering into the environment. This is critical to protecting our communities, and I urge my colleagues to support this bill.”

Specifically, the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act would do the following:

  • Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to review the sources of PFAS in waterbodies and use that information to set protective limits on the amount of PFAS chemicals that can be released.
  • Ensure that any entity that is discharging these limited levels of PFAS receive a Clean Water Act permit before discharging these chemicals into the environment.
  • Require the EPA to establish standards for the treatment of wastewater, which often includes PFAS chemicals, before it is released into the environment or used for other purposes.

Gillibrand has long fought to protect New York communities from PFAS health risks. Earlier this year sheintroduced bipartisan legislation that would require the EPA to set a Maximum Contaminant Level and Primary National Drinking Water Regulation for PFAS. She introduced another bipartisan bill that would identify and publicly share sources of PFAS pollution in New York and across the country. Both of her bills were included in the Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed earlier this year. Gillibrand also included an amendment she co-authored to ban PFAS chemicals in firefighting foams used on military bases in the Senate NDAA. In 2018, she successfully fought to pass a new law as a part of the FAA Authorization that eliminated a requirement mandating commercial airports use firefighting foam that contained PFAS.

PFAS are a group of thousands of manufactured chemicals that can seep into drinking water supplies and have contaminated communities in New York and across the country. These toxic chemicals have been linked to cancers and other serious health and developmental effects. Reporting has shown that potentially more than 19 million Americans are using public water systems exposed to PFAS contamination, yet the EPA has not moved quickly enough to create regulatory standards to protect Americans from this serious health hazard.