Press Release

On Year Anniversary Of EPA’s Stalled Promise To Combat Toxic PFAS Exposure In New York, Gillibrand, Schumer Along With Senate Colleagues Call On EPA To Finally Deliver On Promises Made In PFAS Action Plan

Feb 14, 2020

Washington, DC  — U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer today called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide an updated timeline for when it will implement commitments made in the agency’s plan to combat exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The EPA’s PFAS Action Plan was released one year ago today and critical aspects outlined in the strategy have yet to be implemented. The senators wrote a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler requesting him to provide a status update and an estimate of completion for each commitment made in the PFAS Action Plan.

As you are aware, communities across the country are struggling to respond to the widespread issue of PFAS contamination,” wrote the senators.The human health risks from this class of chemicals, which include birth defects, various forms of cancer, and immune system dysfunction, are still being examined, and the uncertainty has caused great concern among our constituents. The health and environmental threats posed by PFAS are significant. Communities across America demand that the EPA help protect them from PFAS exposure. They deserve the confidence that their water is safe and free of harmful levels of PFAS contamination.”

The senators contended that it is concerning that the EPA has failed to make significant progress on the PFAS Action plan because, while the plan alone is not sufficient to address the full scope and urgency that exposure to PFAS has on communities in New York, it is an important first step in protecting them from the associated health risks. Last year, the EPA committed to releasing a decision on whether to establish federal drinking water regulations for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), two of the most prevalent PFAS chemicals, but have failed to present that proposal, pushing back action to regulate these standards even further. The senators also highlighted other parts of the plan that have not been prioritized, including remediation efforts to help cleanup PFAS contamination under the Superfund law.

PFAS are a class 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.

The full text of the letter may be found here.

In addition to Gillibrand and Schumer, the letter was also signed by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jack Reed (D-RI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Angus King (I-ME), Ed Markey (D-MA), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Patty Murray (D-WA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Chris Coons (D-DE) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA).