Nessel, 21 AGs prod Congress on PFAS funding

    U.S. Capitol | Creative Commons

    As PFAS has dominated several congressional hearings this month, 21 attorneys general sent a letter to congressional leaders urging them to pass legislation helping states in fighting PFAS, known as toxic “forever” chemicals.

    Attorney General Dana Nessel in Flint, July 26, 2019 | Andrew Roth

    Michigan has the most identified sites of  PFAS, or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The chemicals, found in everyday items like nonstick cookware, have contaminated drinking water and groundwater in places like Oscoda.

    “Michigan has already taken a proactive approach to regulate PFAS contaminants in groundwater by implementing regulations on this contaminant without waiting for the federal government,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said. “But like all states, our efforts to address PFAS contamination will be aided by uniform, protective national standards and we’re counting on Congress’ help to make that happen.”

    The letter urges Congress to give funding to state and local governments “to offset the high cost of cleaning up drinking water supplies.”

    Last month, Nessel and the Michigan departments of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) and Health and Human Services (DHHS) each filed comments urging the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its interim PFAS standards.

    Michigan Dems flood D.C. PFAS hearing: ‘We cannot have another Flint water crisis’

    Michigan is one of only a few states that has issued enforceable standards for the two chemicals addressed in the EPA’s recommendations: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perflurorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). The state has water quality standards, cleanup criteria for groundwater used as drinking water, and cleanup criteria for the groundwater-surface water interface.

    The AGs urge Congress to address “urgent needs”:

    • Designating certain PFAS chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), otherwise known as “Superfund.”
    • Adding the entire class of PFAS chemicals to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), which requires certain industrial facilities to report on the amount of specific toxic chemicals released into the environment annually.
    • Wurtsmith Air Museum
      Wurtsmith Air Museum, near former the Air Force base from which PFAS has contaminated Oscoda | Michael Gerstein

      Providing funding for remediation of PFAS-contaminated drinking water supplies, particularly those in disadvantaged communities where residents’ water bills rise as a result of their municipality struggling to afford the high costs associated with cleaning up PFAS.

    • Prohibiting the use and storage of firefighting foam containing PFAS at military bases and other federal facilities as soon as possible and in the meantime, providing immediate protective measures, especially when firefighting foam is used.
    • Providing medical screening of PFAS exposure for appropriate personnel and members of the public, including but not limited to firefighters.

    The other attorneys general are from California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Guam, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin.

    Susan J. Demas is an 18-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.


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