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Michiganders Share Concerns with Peters About EPA’s Inaction on PFAS, Blast Agency’s Action ‘Plan’

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) is continuing to hear from Michiganders impacted by Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure following the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s plan unveiled recently. The plan does not establish enforceable drinking water standards or guide clean-up efforts.

“I’ve consistently heard from Michiganders about the need for EPA to establish an enforceable standard and share their concerns that  the EPA’s new ‘plan’ only kicks the can down the road,” said Senator Peters, Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. “Exposure to PFAS can have serious health impacts, which is why we cannot afford to wait any longer for action. I will continue working in the Senate to protect Michiganders and communities from PFAS exposure.”

Peters has heard from many Michiganders, who are concerned and disappointed by the EPA’s recent announcement regarding its PFAS plan, including:

Sandy Wynn-Stelt, resident of Belmont, MI affected by PFAS: “While the EPA Action Plan was certainly long in content, it was short of substance. It is time for decisive action, which should include setting a safe drinking water standard based on the current science and acting to hold polluters, not affected citizens, responsible for the cost of cleanup.  The EPA has been aware of the dangers of PFAS for many years, and yet continues to delay in finding a meaningful way of managing this issue. I am very concerned that while the EPA waits, we continue to have citizens subjected to further contamination and suffer the serious consequences of their inaction.”

Tammy Cooper, resident of Parchment, MI affected by PFAS: “I believe that the EPA will continue to delay setting an enforceable limit until they are forced to. Until the EPA focuses on helping Michiganders and puts a real plan forward, people suffering from PFAS exposure and contamination will continue to suffer and pay dearly as a result.”

Richard Fuller, Kalamazoo County Sheriff: “I appreciate Senator Peters holding the EPA to their promises. Sadly, the EPA has not taken more of a leadership role in the establishment of an acceptable PFAS contamination level.  Ideally the EPA establishes, sets, and enforces standards for safe drinking water across the nation. There have been two PFAS groundwater issues found in our county over the last 18 months. Security is challenged for a community when the citizens cannot trust the water they drink to be safe.”

Lisa Wozniak, executive director at Michigan League of Conservation Voters: “The EPA's PFAS 'action' plan falls woefully short of what's needed to stop the poisoning of our communities and make our drinking water safe again. As the millions of Michigan families exposed to PFAS can attest, we must move quickly and establish an enforceable drinking water standard and a comprehensive plan to clean up these toxic chemicals in our drinking water. We stand with Senator Peters in calling on the EPA and Department of Defense to take swift, meaningful action to protect the public from these dangerous chemicals.”

Cathy Wusterbarth, Co-Lead, Need Our Water (NOW): “The EPA PFAS Action plan is totally inadequate.  It fails to address the entire class of PFAS chemicals.  The Inaction contained in this plan is an attempt to drag out the process of fully informing and protecting the public of the dangers of these chemicals.  Unwillingly, PFAS are being spread throughout our water supplies, into our food supplies, into the air and exposure through our skin.  I believe the foundation of this plan fails to prioritize human health.”

Tony Spaniola, Member of Need Our Water (NOW) and Oscoda property owner: “The EPA's so-called PFAS Action Plan is much too little, far too late and is largely a smokescreen for continued inaction. We cannot continue to poison our children and our families for the years that it will take the EPA to potentially implement a drinking water standard. The adverse health consequences of even low level PFAS exposures are well documented. The EPA has already sat on its hands for far too long. Further delays are totally unacceptable.”

Laura Rubin, Executive Director, Huron River Watershed Council: “For residents in the Huron River Watershed in SE Michigan who are struggling with Do Not Eat Fish Advisories and worried about what the appropriate level of PFAS is in drinking water, the EPA’s action plan for PFAS fails to provide any immediate help. We can’t wait months and years for action. We need policies and standards for clean drinking water now.”

Joe Hemming, President, Anglers of the Au Sable: “Anglers of the Au Sable finds it outrageous that the EPA still has not yet established a maximum contaminant level for compounds PFOS and PFOA under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The time to act is now. And the science says so. Michigan and its citizens have been so blessed with all of our state’s natural resources, including water, and we have a special responsibility in seeing that these resources are properly protected. As a conservation organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the Au Sable River, one of the finest rivers in North America, we demand that the EPA fulfill its responsibilities in protecting this special river. We applaud Senator Peters’ leadership in dealing with this crisis.”

Cyndi Roper, Michigan Senior Policy Advocate, Natural Resources Defense Council: “The Trump Administration bungled an opportunity to ensure we’re protected against continued pollution by these dangerous contaminants, which are present at unsafe levels in our environment and drinking water throughout Michigan and the rest of the U.S. This plan is another indication that this Administration is failing to prioritize important environmental protections.”

Aaron Weed, Supervisor, Charter Township of Oscoda: “It is very disappointing the content of the EPA’s plan did not have any specificity behind it. The community of Oscoda Township, and hundreds of other communities in our nation, need the EPA to set measurable deliverables regarding PFAS regulation. We deserve a detailed action plan from the EPA that will stop the contamination of our nation. Chemicals cannot be treated as people because chemicals are not innocent until proven guilty; PFAS is harmful and the EPA must quickly set proper standards to protect the people.”

Lori Childers, Board Member, Veterans and Civilians Clean Water Alliance: “Communities across the country have been fighting for clean water, land, and air for decades. It is past time for the EPA, and all of the other government agencies, to finally step forward and do the right thing - ensure a healthy, safe environment for all. Unfortunately, the recently released EPA PFAS Action Plan will continue to allow many Americans to be exposed to the countless toxins in the environment for years to come.”

Peters has led efforts in the Senate to address PFAS. Last year, Peters authored a provision that is now law to enable airports to transition away from using firefighting foams that contain PFAS. Previously, airports were required by law to use these foams based off an outdated specification. In addition, Peters helped convene the first Senate hearing on PFAS to assess the federal role on contamination and clean-up and convened a Senate field summit in Grand Rapids to hear from affected Michiganders and highlight how federal actions can support local efforts.

Most recently, Peters requested the Air Force work with the State of Michigan to remediate PFAS contamination surrounding the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Iosco County. The Air Force assured the Senator it will continue working with the state and confirmed that Assistant Secretary Henderson is scheduling a trip to Michigan, following Peters’ request.