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Peters, Colleagues Request Documents Related to Interagency Review of EPA PFAS Action Plan, Groundwater Cleanup Guidelines

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, joined a group of his colleagues to request all documents and communications related to the federal government’s interagency review of EPA’s February 2019 “PFAS Action Plan” and EPA’s long-awaited groundwater cleanup guidelines for toxic PFAS chemicals.

Peters sent letters to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of Defense (DoD), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requesting the agency communications. U.S. Senators Tom Carper (DE), Patty Murray (WA) and Jack Reed (RI), who serve as the Ranking Members of the Environmental and Public Works, Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and the Armed Services Committees, respectively, joined Peters in the request.

“We write to request information related to EPA’s nationwide PFAS Action Plan and other related actions,” Peters and the senators wrote. “The PFAS Action Plan, which EPA released on February 14, 2019, did not include a commitment to promulgate a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS. EPA also failed to release its groundwater cleanup guidelines for PFOS and PFOA in tandem with the PFAS Action Plan, despite announcing that it would complete these guidelines by Fall, 2018.”

The senators continued, “It is also our understanding that the groundwater cleanup guidelines for PFOS and PFOA have been held up at OMB since August 2018 due to an interagency dispute related to how stringent the guidelines should be.  Finally, we have also been informed that in at least one instance, the United States Air Force has diverted funds intended for a site cleanup of non-PFAS contamination to PFAS-related cleanup efforts.”

PDFs of the four letters can be accessed below:

  • Letter to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney, led by Senator Peters
  • Letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, led by Senator Carper
  • Letter to HHS Secretary Alex Azar, led by Senator Murray
  • Letter to Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, led by Senator Reed

As Ranking Member of the Senate’s top oversight committee, Peters has led efforts to address PFAS contamination. Last week, Peters joined colleagues to introduce bipartisan legislation to require EPA to declare PFAS as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law. Peters convened 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. Last year, Peters authored a provision that is now law to allow 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. He also secured a provision that was enacted to encourage the Department of Defense to develop firefighting foams free of PFAS.