Shaheen Statement on Trump Administration’s PFAS Action Plan

February 14, 2019

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement in response to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) PFAS Action Plan, which was released this morning. The plan includes the Agency’s short- and long-term strategies for addressing contamination from PFAS, a family of synthetic chemicals that includes the contaminants PFOA and PFOS. EPA’s PFAS Management Plan includes commitments to improve monitoring of PFAS in drinking water systems, invest in research and development of PFAS detection technologies, and prioritize communication between the EPA and state partners regarding PFAS risk factors to educate the American public.  

According to the plan, the EPA will also move forward with the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) process outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for PFOA and PFOS. However, this plan does not include a commitment to eventually put in place federal, enforceable drinking standards for PFOA and PFOS. The plan includes an Agency commitment to propose a SDWA regulatory determination for PFOA and PFOS by the end of this year. This regulatory determination is a formal decision on whether EPA should initiate a process to develop a national primary drinking water regulation for a specific contaminant. 

“While I’m glad to see the Environmental Protection Agency release their long-awaited National PFAS Management Plan, it falls short of delivering the certainty that families impacted by PFAS exposure need and deserve. Without a commitment to develop enforceable drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, there’s no certainty that this strategy will sufficiently confront the challenges PFAS chemicals pose to states and affected communities,” said Shaheen. “I’ll continue to urge the EPA to heed the bipartisan calls in Congress and establish enforceable drinking water standards to maintain consistency in safety levels from state to state.” 

Earlier this month, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), calling on the EPA to establish federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS. Shaheen introduced bipartisan legislation in the last Congress with Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)—the Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act— that would improve federal efforts to identify and address the public health effects of emerging contaminants such as PFAS. Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination. Shaheen successfully established the first-ever nationwide health study on the impacts of PFAS substances in drinking water. Because of Shaheen’s efforts, Pease (the site of the former Pease Air Force Base) will serve as the model site for the nationwide PFAS health study.