One Year After PFAS Commitment, Cantwell, Murray Call on EPA to Deliver on Promises Made

Key parts of EPA’s PFAS Action Plan have yet to be implemented one year after agency pledge

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Patty Murray (D-WA) joined a number of their Democratic colleagues last week to call 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 released its plan – the PFAS Action Plan – one year ago, but it still hasn’t implemented many of the commitments outlined in the strategy.

“As you are aware, communities across the country are struggling to respond to the widespread issue of PFAS contamination,” the senators wrote in a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “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.”

In their letter, the lawmakers emphasized that the PFAS Action Plan alone is insufficient to address the full scope and urgency of the problems associated with PFAS exposure. They also highlighted the EPA’s failure to follow through on its pledge to establish federal drinking water standards for two of the most prevalent PFAS chemicals.

The senators went on to address other parts of the plan that have not been prioritized, including important remediation efforts to help expedite cleanup of PFAS contamination. They requested that the EPA provide an update on the status of every commitment made in the PFAS Action Plan, as well as an update on the timeline for executing the priorities included in the strategy.

“The health and environmental threats posed by PFAS are significant,” the senators concluded. “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.”

Senator Cantwell has led efforts in Congress to address water contamination due to PFAS, and just last month she called on the U.S. Navy to continue to address potential PFAS contamination in Kitsap County. Last year, she introduced the bipartisan PFAS Accountability Act to hold federal agencies accountable for addressing PFAS contamination at military bases around the country. Cantwell has also called for the inclusion of firefighters in studies on the health effects of occupational exposure to PFAS, and in 2018 she helped secure $62 million in additional resources to clean up contamination caused by the chemicals.

Senator Murray has been consistent in her oversight of PFAS contamination, pressing DoD and EPA for answers on reports of efforts to weaken contamination standards and pushing for federal resources to address water contamination near military bases. Senator Murray also fought to include firefighters in studies on the effects on workers exposed to PFAS on the job, and has demanded that the Navy take every step necessary to address PFAS contamination in Kitsap County.

In addition to Cantwell and Murray, the letter was also signed by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), 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), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Chris Coons (D-DE).

The letter can be read in full HERE.