Press Release

Gillibrand Demands Answers From EPA On Why It Has Yet To Act And Protect Communities Across The Country From Toxic PFAS Chemicals

Oct 23, 2019

**Watch EPW Committee Hearing Video HERE**

Washington, DC – At a Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand questioned an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official on the agency’s unwillingness to protect communities from per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. Gillibrand questioned Charlotte Bertrand, the Deputy Assistant Administrator for Policy for the Office of Water at the EPA, over the agency’s slow action to determine whether or not to move forward with developing a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFAS chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act. A MCL would set an enforceable standard and a legal limit of the chemicals to be permitted in public water systems. In the hearing, Gillibrand outlined that the EPA has all the information it needs to make a decision today.

“Ms. Bertrand, I was very disheartened when during a House Committee hearing last month, David Ross, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water at the EPA, was unable – or unwilling – to commit that EPA would make a determination to regulate PFAS chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act,” said Senator Gillibrand. “You may be aware that under the Safe Drinking Water Act, there are three criteria that the EPA must consider when deciding to move forward with setting a drinking water regulation… There’s so much publicly available information already that supports conclusions on those three elements.”

Below are the questions that Senator Gillibrand asked during the hearing:

  • Why is it taking so long? There’s so much publicly available information already that supports conclusions on those three elements. Your first step is just to decide whether or not you’re going to regulate – that does not sound like a hard decision to make.
  • What are you on track to do?
  • The EPA’s Regulatory Agenda indicates that the regulatory determination will be proposed by December 2019. Has a draft regulatory determination been sent to OMB yet?

Gillibrand has long fought to protect New York communities from PFAS health risks, and earlier this year, introduced legislation that would require the EPA to set a Maximum Contaminant Level and Primary National Drinking Water Regulation for PFAS. Her bipartisan bill was included in the Senate National Defense Authorization Act that passed earlier this year.

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.