U.S. Senators Gary Peters (D-MI), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced bipartisan legislation to improve coordination between federal and local governments to protect Americans from exposure to toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS are man-made chemicals that are widely used in industry and consumer products, and can lead to serious health effects. The senators’ bill would create a working group within the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to improve intergovernmental coordination to address contamination of these harmful substances.
“The federal government must do a better job of coordinating with states, Tribes, and local communities when they are working to clean up harmful PFAS chemicals that continue to affect the health and safety of servicemembers, first responders, and entire communities in Michigan and across the nation,” said Senator Peters. “This bipartisan bill will help improve communication and coordination efforts across every level of government to ensure there is a more comprehensive approach to cleaning up existing sites and preventing future contamination.”
“The State of Maine has been at the forefront of efforts to identify and address contamination from PFAS, which are known to be harmful to human health. Unfortunately, these forever chemicals are increasingly being found in soil, water, animal feed, crops, and livestock, causing substantial harm to the livelihoods of Maine’s family farmers and threatening our water and food supplies,” said Senator Collins. “By establishing a PFAS contamination working group, our legislation would spur cooperation across government at all levels, leverage PFAS research by academic institutions such as UMaine, and pressure USDA to engage on this issue to support farmers.”
Michigan has the highest number of PFAS contaminated sites in the nation – largely because the state is at the forefront of testing and identifying these locations. More than 2 million Michiganders have been exposed to PFAS contamination in their drinking water and PFAS have been found in every Great Lake. Exposure to these chemicals can cause detrimental health effects, including an increased risk of cancer, damage to the immune system, decreased fertility, birth defects, liver disease, and thyroid disease.
The PFAS Intergovernmental Coordination Act would establish an intergovernmental working group at OMB made up of representatives from federal agencies; state, local, and Tribal governments; and academic research institutions to improve responses to current PFAS contamination. The group would meet quarterly for two years and would be tasked with providing a report to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Reform that outlines their recommendations and methodologies to improve responses to current PFAS contamination efforts and mitigate future contamination efforts.