Bipartisan PFAS legislation introduced in Congress

    Michigan DEQ contractors
    A Department of Environmental Quality contractor checks for PFAS contamination in 2017.

    Members of Michigan’s congressional delegation are taking action on contaminating chemicals that have become widespread around Michigan.

    Bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Dan Kildee (D-Flint) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) instructs the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate PFAS as a “hazardous substance.” The designation allows the agency to tap federal resources for remediation of contaminated sites.

    “Toxic PFAS chemicals are a serious threat to public health and we must pass policies that protect our communities from contamination,” Kildee, who serves in the House leadership as chief deputy whip, said in a statement. “This bipartisan legislation is an important first step to making sure federal agencies can clean up sites like Wurtsmith in Oscoda, Buick City in Flint and others across the country.”

    Fred Upton (left), Debbie Dingell (center), Dan Kildee (right)

    Remediation of PFAS contamination around the state has been a key topic for state policymakers in recent months, as the Advance has previously reported.

    State Sen. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids) on Tuesday introduced legislation setting maximum contaminant levels for PFAS-related chemicals in drinking water to no more than five parts per trillion.

    Gretchen Whitmer | Ken Coleman

    The increasingly widespread presence of PFAS in Michigan also helped to inspire, at least in part, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s first action in office earlier this month. On her second day Whitmer signed an executive directive mandating that department level state employees work through a chain of command should they “become aware of an imminent threat to public health, safety or welfare.”

    Upton, in a statement, noted that one of the state’s contaminated sites has been found in his 6th Congressional District in the Southwest part of the state.

    “PFAS contamination represents a clear and present danger to Michigan families,” said Upton. “And, as Parchment made crystal clear, we need an all-hands-on-deck effort to protect both human health and our environment. This bipartisan legislation will ensure we’re treating PFAS as a hazardous chemical and giving our agencies the resources to clean up sites for the betterment of our communities.”

    Nick Manes
    Nick Manes covers West Michigan, business and labor, health care and the safety net. He previously spent six years as a reporter at MiBiz covering commercial real estate, economic development and all manner of public policy at the local and state levels. His byline also has appeared in Route Fifty and The Daily Beast. When not reporting around the state or furiously tweeting, he enjoys spending time with his girlfriend, Krista, biking around his hometown of Grand Rapids and torturing himself rooting for the Detroit Lions.

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