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VIDEO: Senator Peters Advocates for Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and PFAS Drinking Water Standards at Hearing with EPA Administrator

WASHINGTON, DC – During a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan, U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) advocated for continued, robust funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), which was established to accelerate efforts to protect and restore the Great Lakes. Since 2010, the GLRI has provided over $1.4 billion to fund more than 3,000 projects across Michigan.

“As Michiganders, I can say that the Great Lakes are not only in our DNA, they are a critical resource for drinking water, for economic growth, and for job creation,” said Senator Peters. “Since 2010, GLRI resources have been used to fund thousands of projects to improve water quality, to protect and restore native habitats and species, to prevent and control invasive species, and to address other Great Lakes environmental problems. However, challenges to the Great Lakes, from fluctuating lake levels to increased harmful algal blooms to climate change aren’t going away… so we need to make sure we have full funding for at least the authorized $450 million in the Fiscal Year 2025 budget.” 

In response, Administrator Regan said, “I feel really good that the vision of this program is working. The economic aspects of it, the leveraged dollars, are making a lot of sense. And we’ve got a billion dollars in additional resources that we’re going to leverage against that to continue to see the progress that you and others have led.”

Administrator Regan also highlighted the GLRI’s economic benefits, noting that every $1 invested in GLRI projects generates about $3.35 in economic activity, according to a 2018 University of Michigan study.

During the hearing, Peters additionally raised the widespread issue of PFAS contamination and applauded the EPA’s recent action to establish the first-ever national standard for PFAS chemicals in drinking water. Peters underscored the need to establish additional national drinking standards.

“After long pushing for a national standard to limit PFAS in drinking water, I wanted to say I certainly applaud last month’s very historic announcement by the EPA for the finalization of the nation’s first-ever national standard to address toxic PFAS chemicals in drinking water,” Peters said. “Communities in Michigan, quite frankly, have waited far too long for this new standard to help our state and nation make the progress necessary to rid our communities of these toxic chemicals.”

Peters continued, “Researchers and scientists have underscored the serious risks of PFAS contamination in both human health and our environment. That’s why it’s important to establish additional national drinking standards as soon as possible to help communities.”

In his response, Administrator Regan confirmed the EPA is working to detect, test, and monitor additional PFAS chemicals to pursue additional drinking water standards in the future.

To watch video of Senator Peters’ questions at the hearing, click here or on the image below.

epa hearing

Peters has championed support for the GLRI. In 2019, Peters secured a bipartisan provision that was signed into law to provide the first increase in GLRI support in a decade. In 2022, Peters helped enact the single-largest-ever investment in the GLRI through the bipartisan infrastructure law to accelerate the restoration of nine high-priority areas in Michigan whose lakes, rivers and watersheds flow into the Great Lakes. In 2020, Peters authored the law to reauthorize and expand the GLRI. Peters and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI) introduced legislation earlier this year to reauthorize the GLRI through 2031 and increase the program’s annual funding level. That legislation was recently approved by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Peters has also led and championed efforts to address toxic PFAS chemicals. In September 2018, Peters helped convene the first-ever hearing on PFAS contamination in the Senate, which assessed the federal government’s response to PFAS contamination and remediation efforts. Peters also convened a hearing in 2021 as Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to examine how servicemembers, their families, and communities across the country have been harmed by exposure to toxic PFAS substances connected to military sites. He also previously supported and led provisions in the national defense bill to prohibit the Defense Department (DoD) from purchasing or using firefighting foams containing PFAS chemicals for military training exercises, and enhanced state cooperation DoD to clean-up PFAS contamination stemming from military-related activities.

Peters introduced and advanced bipartisan legislation to reduce the spread of PFAS chemicals at commercial airports. The Preventing PFAS Runoff at Airports Act, which was signed into law in 2022, is working to deploy more existing Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding for commercial airports to purchase devices to test their firefighting equipment without discharging toxic PFAS chemicals. In 2022, Peters’ bill to help protect firefighters and emergency responders from PFAS exposure in the line of duty was also signed into law.