U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Antonio Delgado (D-NY) reintroduced their bicameral Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which would regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals under the Clean Water Act to finally stop manufacturers and other polluters from contaminating our nation’s waterways with toxic levels of PFAS.
Currently, there are no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations limiting how much PFAS polluters can discharge into the environment. This means that the companies that manufacture products using PFAS chemicals can release PFAS into federally regulated waters unchecked, endangering public health and requiring costly clean up and treatment efforts to protect drinking water sources. The burden of costly clean-up efforts are often placed on the communities themselves, rather than on the companies responsible for the contamination. The Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act regulates PFAS under the Clean Water Act in order to help stop toxic levels of PFAS from entering water sources in the first place.
“Across New York State, and in almost every state across the country, communities have had their water supplies needlessly polluted by toxic PFAS chemicals,” said Senator Gillibrand. “By developing effluent limitations guidelines and clear standards for all measurable PFAS, we can stop PFAS at the source and prevent contamination of our drinking water. I am proud to reintroduce the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act along with Representatives Pappas and Delgado, to prevent polluters from contaminating our waterways and ensure everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to safe and clean drinking water.”
“PFAS is one of the most pressing environmental and public health issues facing our nation today – impacting millions of Americans,” said Congressman Pappas. “The Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act takes critical steps to hold polluters accountable, establish proactive limits for PFAS, and support communities that have been directly affected. I am proud to help introduce this legislation in the House, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to fight for better standards, increased investment, and a stronger national focus on the issue of PFAS contamination.”
“Hoosick Falls, Petersburgh, and other communities across New York’s 19th Congressional District have faced unacceptable challenges with PFAS pollution. Congress must do more to address PFAS exposure,” said Representative Delgado. “The Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act creates wastewater quality standards that will safeguard the health of upstate families. I am proud to join Senator Gillibrand and Congressman Pappas to reintroduce this bipartisan bill. The House and Senate must advance this crucial legislation.”
“To address the PFAS contamination crisis, we need to turn off the tap of PFAS pollution,” said Environmental Working Group (EWG) Senior Vice President for Government Affairs Scott Faber. “EWG applauds Senator Gillibrand for making industrial discharges of PFAS a priority for the EPA. Ordinary people are paying the price for decades of delay.”
According to a map published by the Environmental Working Group, PFAS contamination has been detected in every state other than Hawaii. Contaminated areas include military sites that use firefighting foam containing PFAS and industrial sites where PFAS chemicals were manufactured or used in production. In New York State, more than one million residents are served by drinking water systems where PFAS chemicals have been detected.
Specifically, the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act would do the following:
- Require the EPA to develop water quality criteria under the Clean Water Act for all measurable PFAS or classes of PFAS within two years, and develop effluent limitations guidelines and standards for all measurable PFAS or classes of PFAS within four years. This includes establishing pretreatment standards to prevent the introduction of PFAS into publicly-owned water treatment facilities, stopping PFAS at the source before it gets into the municipal water system.
- Identifies nine priority industry categories that EPA must establish standards for including: Organic Chemicals, Plastics and Synthetic Fibers (OCPSF); Pulp, paper, and paperboard; Textile mills; Electroplating; Metal finishing; Leather tanning and finishing; Paint formulating; Electrical and electrical components; and Plastics molding and forming.
- Authorize $200 million per year for grants to assist Publicly Owned Treatment Works with implementation. The grant program would be run by EPA and funding would be appropriated through Fiscal Years 2022-2026.
Original cosponsors of the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act include Senators Schumer (D-NY), Warren (D-MA), Merkley (D-OR), Blumenthal (D-CT), Casey (D-PA), Markey (D-MA), Durbin (D-IL), Feinstein (D-CA) and the legislation is led in the House by Representatives Pappas and Delgado.