Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick

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Fitzpatrick, Kildee Seek Timeline for Drinking Water and Clean Up Standards in PFAS Action Plan

Feb 21, 2019
Press Release

After the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) release of their PFAS Action Plan, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Dan Kildee (MI-05) are seeking clarification on actions before a new Administrator is confirmed.

Congressmen Fitzpatrick and Kildee today sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer requesting that EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler articulate EPA’s timeline for regulating two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), PFOA and PFOS, and encouraging the agency to move forward quickly before he is confirmed as the agency’s head.

EPA’s PFAS Action Plan states that it will begin the regulatory process to create a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for PFOA and PFOS and actions to designate these toxic chemicals as hazardous substances. However, the plan fails to set concrete deadlines for achieving these regulatory actions, preventing the agency from being held accountable to these actions.

“The announcement was long overdue but left many questions unanswered. In communities throughout Bucks and Montgomery counties, these toxic chemicals have poisoned the water of tens of thousands of residents, and the EPA has failed to act,” said Congressman Fitzpatrick. “Our community needs to know that Acting Administrator Wheeler’s commitment is genuine, with a firm timeline of actionable steps, and not just a vague plan leading to more inaction. The time to act is now and these questions must be satisfactorily answered prior to confirmation.”

“By delaying real action on PFAS, the Trump Administration is failing to protect public health. EPA Acting Administrator’s recent PFAS Action Plan had very little detail about actual steps being taken to prevent contamination,” said Congressman Kildee. “Before he is confirmed to lead the EPA, Acting Administrator Wheeler must lay out a specific timeline for achieving the actions in the plan so the public can hold him accountable. Communities across the country are dealing with PFAS contamination and they need urgent action by the EPA now.”

Before the Senate votes on Acting Administrator Wheeler’s confirmation to head the EPA, Senators should make sure he will act swiftly to establish an MCL for PFOA and PFOS and declare these are hazardous substances so people can have safe drinking water and aggressive cleanup can begin.

See the full text of the letter below. A digital copy is available HERE.

Dear Senator McConnell and Senator Schumer:

We write to you regarding the nomination of Andrew Wheeler to be the Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Last week, Mr. Wheeler announced the EPA’s PFAS Action Plan. Considering years of inaction by the EPA regarding PFAS, the fact that EPA released a plan to mobilize a comprehensive response to these toxic chemicals was welcome news. We are concerned, however, about the lack of timelines for accomplishing many of the action items in the plan, especially setting a Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for two types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and designating them as hazardous substances.

PFAS are a dangerous class of chemicals that are extremely persistent in the environment, break down very slowly in the human body, and are associated with a plethora of adverse health effects, including cancer, high cholesterol, weakened immune system and hypertension during pregnancy.

Two types of PFAS—PFOA and PFOS—are in firefighting foam used to extinguish certain classes of fires. In our districts, this firefighting foam has been used at current and former military bases and has leeched into people’s water supply surrounding these facilities. As a result, thousands of our constituents have been drinking and cooking in water contaminated by these toxic chemicals for many years. Protecting their health and ensuring their access to safe, clean drinking water is our highest priority. 

While we were pleased to hear that the PFAS Action Plan includes, in addition to a number of other actions, the intention to establish a MCL for PFOA and PFOS and to designate these two PFAS as hazardous substances, the proposed timeline for these actions was unclear. This is not the time to continue to make plans for discussion about how to protect our constituents from these harmful chemicals, this is the time for regulatory action. 

As such, prior to his confirmation as Administrator of the EPA, we are respectfully requesting that you ensure Mr. Wheeler’s firm commitment to quickly and aggressively regulating these chemicals with a timeline where Congress can hold the EPA accountable.  Equivocation and procrastination are unacceptable; the health and well-being of our constituents depends on swift and effective regulatory action.