DETROIT, MI – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), 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 toxic “forever” chemicals known as PFAS, and much of the progress identified in the report was due to Congressional efforts. Peters originally requested the report in 2019, along with U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), to obtain information about ongoing federal agency efforts to address the PFAS contamination crisis and to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used effectively.
“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.”
“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.”
READ THE REPORT HERE
The report found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has made some progress on only 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), including ensuring that products containing PFAS chemicals are not imported into the United States without first being reviewed by the EPA. However, the report also found that under the previous Administration, the EPA failed to complete three additional regulatory actions laid out in their plan to combat these harmful chemicals, including taking a step back on efforts to designate PFAS as a hazardous substance. Peters is committed to working with the Biden Administration to quickly implement science-based safeguards to address the PFAS crisis.
As the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Peters has led Congressional efforts to address PFAS contamination in Michigan and across the country. Peters supported or led provisions in the 2019 national defense bill banning the Department of Defense from purchasing firefighting foams containing PFAS. The bill also immediately prohibited the use of firefighting foams containing PFAS in military training exercises, and enhanced state cooperation with the Department of Defense regarding clean-up due to PFAS contamination stemming from military-related activities. His bill to help protect firefighters and emergency responders from PFAS exposure in the line of duty passed the Senate last year. In September 2018, Peters helped convene the first hearing on PFAS in the Senate, assessing the federal response to contamination and remediation. He then convened a field summit in Grand Rapids in November 2018 to shine a light on how the local, state and federal governments are coordinating their response to PFAS.