Today, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, along with 13 colleagues, sent a letter calling for the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase its efforts to stop the flow of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) into our communities. Ahead of the EPA’s upcoming guidance to state permitting authorities on how to address PFAS in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, Senator Gillibrand and her colleagues are urging Administrator Michael S. Regan to take further steps to limit industrial PFAS discharges. NPDES permits are an important tool under the Clean Water Act that, if used properly, can promptly rein in harmful PFAS pollution. In the letter, the senators explain that the NPDES guidance should supports the goal of eliminating PFAS discharges into the environment, clarify that all known or suspected sources have an obligation to monitor and disclose PFAS in their effluent, and recognizes that Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs) have the authority to require pretreatment of indirect discharges they receive.
“Efforts to contain and remediate PFAS contamination are not only challenging and costly, they are also inequitable and inefficient. Across the country, ratepayers and drinking water providers are spending or expecting to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to try to address PFAS contamination, and the federal government recently announced an additional $10 billion in funding to assist states and water utilities with remediation,” wrote the senators. “Specifically, we urge the EPA to include three important safeguards in the upcoming guidance. Fortunately, the Clean Water Act and EPA’s existing regulations already provide the tools needed to stop the flow of PFAS pollution into our nation’s waters and ensure that manufacturers bear the costs of preventing and controlling PFAS contamination.”
In April, EPA issued guidance for federally-issued NPDES permits under the Clean Water Act that recognizes the need to identify and control sources of PFAS pollution, including industrial sources that discharge directly to waters and those that send waste through POTWs.
Senator Gillibrand has long been a leader in the fight to protect communities who have suffered from PFAS exposure, having successfully pushed to include a phase-out of DoD’s use of firefighting foam containing PFAS in the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Most recently, Gillibrand secured provisions in the FY22 NDAA to expedite the testing, cleanup, and remediation of PFAS at some of the most contaminated U.S. military installations, and she introduced a landmark bill, the PFAS Firefighter Protection Act, which would completely ban firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals.
In addition to Senator Gillibrand, the letter was also signed by Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Ed Markey (D-MA).
Read the full letter HERE.