U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works

03/01/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/01/2021 14:04

Carper, Peters Release GAO Report Showing More Action is Needed to Address PFAS Contamination

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), and Senator Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, released a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that shows the federal government needs to take further action to clean up and prevent contamination from per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS). The report found that the Trump Administration made limited progress in protecting communities and drinking water resources from exposure to these toxic 'forever chemicals.' Much of the progress identified in the report was due to Congressional efforts. Senators Carper and Peters originally requested the report in 2019 to obtain information about ongoing federal agency efforts to address the PFAS contamination crisis and to ensure the effective usage of taxpayer dollars.

'Communities across the country are impacted every day by exposure to PFAS chemicals in their drinking water,' said Senator Carper. 'This report lays out where we stand on addressing this critical issue affecting millions of Americans, and its findings are crystal clear: we have a lot of work to do. I'll be continuing the fight in Washington to ensure all families have access to clean water.'

'Exposure to PFAS chemicals continues to harm the health and wellbeing of families in Michigan and across America. This report clearly shows that while progress is being made, the federal government must step up their efforts to ensure our drinking water is safe and protect communities from these hazardous chemicals,' said Senator Peters. 'From establishing a national drinking water standard to securing the resources needed to cleanup affected communities- I will continue working with the Biden Administration to ensure we address PFAS contamination in Michigan and across the nation.'

The report can be found here.

The report found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made some progress on three out of six regulatory actions laid out in a 2019 plan to address the PFAS crisis. This includes measures required by the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), such as ensuring that EPA review imported products containing PFAS chemicals before entering the United States. However, the report also found that under the previous Administration, EPA failed to complete three additional regulatory actions laid out in their plan to combat these harmful chemicals. This includes failing to make progress on efforts to designate PFAS as a hazardous substance.

Background

  • On March 1, 2019, Senator Carper, along with a bipartisan group of Senators, introduced legislation to mandate that EPA declare PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law and enable a requirement that polluters undertake or pay for remediation.
  • On May 16, 2019, Senator Carper, along with Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), introduced the PFAS Release Disclosure Act, legislation that would improve the availability of information related to PFAS.
  • On May 20, 2020, Senator Carper led Democratic members of the EPW Committee in asking EPA to share its plans to address PFAS contamination at Superfund sites.
  • On July 28, 2020, Senator Carper requested that the EPA Inspector General commence an investigation into potential irregularities associated with the finalization of a Significant New Use Rule (SNUR), which is designed to restrict the use of certain long-chain PFAS chemicals in consumer products.
  • On February 4, 2021, Senator Carper and Senator Peters reintroduced the Protecting Firefighters from Adverse Substances (PFAS) Act to protect the health and safety of firefighters, emergency responders, and the communities they serve.

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