New Report on Spokane County PFAS Levels Released – Cantwell Presses Consumer Protection Nominee on Past Efforts to Weaken, Eliminate Toxic Chemical Standards

Cantwell: “Unfortunately, Dr. Beck’s record is clear. She has repeatedly sided with industry…over the safety of American families.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today at a Senate Commerce Committee Hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Nancy Beck to head the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the top Democrat on the committee, pressed Dr. Beck about her role in delaying and weakening a proposed rule to restrict the use of dangerous PFAS chemicals in consumer products. Cantwell’s questions at the hearing came shortly after the release of a new report on the elevated levels of several types of PFAS chemicals in the blood of Spokane County residents near Fairchild Air Force Base.

“Dr. Beck has repeatedly stood in the way of progress on this issue,” Cantwell said in her opening statement. “At EPA, Dr. Beck assisted in delaying the release of a government study which found that the EPA’s current Health Advisory for PFAS in drinking water was too weak to protect the public. The proposed Health Advisory would show that PFAS is dangerous at a much lower level than previously thought.”

Later in the hearing, Cantwell questioned Beck on her work at EPA

“When you left EPA, you tried repeatedly to weaken the rule by allowing companies that continue to include PFAS chemicals in consumer products have a safe harbor from enforcement. If they said they didn’t know, they were supposed to have ensured that PFAS was removed. So yes or no, did you participate in that process?,” Cantwell asked.

When Dr. Beck denied weakening or delaying PFAS rules, Cantwell followed up by asking about safe harbor rules that shield companies that continue to include PFAS chemicals from enforcement.

“Do you believe that the companies should have a safe harbor?,” Cantwell asked, to which Dr. Beck replied, “I’m not prepared to answer that question.”

“Well here’s what my constituents are prepared for: this report,” Cantwell responded. “This report…is from the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry. And it is about the assessment in the Spokane community about the unacceptable levels of PFAS…That is what is beyond acceptable. I can’t support your nomination when you can’t answer these questions.”

Senator Cantwell has been a watchdog for consumer safety and in December she released a report detailing failures by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to protect American consumers from unsafe and defective products.

Beck’s nomination has drawn opposition from a number of health and advocacy groups, including the Washington State Department of Health, the International Association of Firefighters, and a broad coalition of consumer groups.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s Opening Statement is available HERE and audio is available HERE.

Video of Senator Cantwell’s Q&A with Dr. Nancy Beck is available HERE and audio is available HERE.

A transcript of Senator Cantwell’s opening statement is available HERE and a transcript of her Q&A is available HERE.