WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today released the agency’s Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) Action Plan:
“This plan falls far short of the commitments promised by EPA leadership a year ago. We know PFAS contamination can have devastating health impacts – and Michigan families across the state that have been exposed for too long rightly deserve answers, but more importantly they deserve action.
“This report makes it even clearer to me that this Administration will continue to delay action for as long as possible. EPA has yet to publish important groundwater cleanup standards that have been in White House interagency review for six months, so I have little confidence in the agency’s ability to initiate enforceable cleanup and drinking water regulations. Congress must take steps to direct the EPA and other agencies to take swift action to ensure our drinking water is safe, prevent exposure to contamination, reduce harm to human health, and expedite clean-up and assistance for affected communities. I will continue working on efforts in the Senate to protect Michiganders and communities across the country from PFAS exposure.”
PFAS are a group of more than 4,700 chemicals that have been used for decades in firefighting foams and commercial applications, many of which have been linked to cancer as well as a wide variety of thyroid, kidney, liver, heart, reproductive and autoimmune problems.
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 Previously, airports were required by law to use these foams based off an outdated specification.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.
Recently, Peters requested the Air Force to cooperate with the State of Michigan in efforts to remediate PFAS contamination surrounding the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Iosco County. The Air Force responded to Peters last week, assuring the Senator that the Air Force will continue to work with the State of Michigan and that Assistant Secretary Henderson is scheduling a trip to Michigan, following Peters’ request.