WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a leader on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, and Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the EPW Committee, introduced legislation that would mandate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) within one year of enactment declare per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law, and also enable a requirement that polluters undertake or pay for remediation. 

Other original co-sponsors include Senators Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) led the introduction of companion legislation in the House of Representatives earlier this Congress. 

“As we’ve learned, certain types of PFAS pollution can have serious consequences when it comes to the environment and to public health and safety. That’s something we need to address,” said Senator Capito, chair of the EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “Our bill will help provide resources for PFAS pollution cleanup and will make it possible to hold those responsible for it accountable. I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with Senator Carper and will continue working with my colleagues, EPA, and others to resolve the issue more broadly.” 

“In the recently released PFAS Action Plan, EPA restated its promise to declare PFAS as hazardous substances, but did not indicate how long it would take to fulfill that promise,” said Senator Carper. “This is an issue that must be addressed with urgency—and that’s why this bill is so important. Designating these chemicals has hazardous substances will, at a minimum, start the process to ensuring contaminated sites across the country are cleaned up, and Americans are safer from the threat posed by these emerging contaminants. This is not the only measure needed to address the broader contamination problems, but it’s a start, and I’m proud this legislation has strong bipartisan support.” 

In May 2018, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced the agency would propose designating PFOA and PFOS, two specific PFAS chemicals, as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including CERCLA Section 102. Nearly a year later, on February 14, 2019, EPA released its long-anticipated PFAS Action Plan. The plan included another commitment by EPA to make that designation for PFOA and PFOS, but it did not identify the available statutory mechanism it would use or how long the designation process would take to complete. 

Clear and swift action from Congress to list PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA would advance the action already proposed by EPA, enabling the agency to protect human health and the environment in an expeditious manner. 

To see the full text of the bill, click here.


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