EPA announces regulation of PFAS in drinking water based on Capito legislation

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a leader on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today applauded the announcement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will propose Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory determinations for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) in drinking water. Senator Capito has been aggressively pushing the EPA to set this standard, introducing several pieces of legislation and talking with EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler personally on the subject several times.

“Setting drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS has been a legislative priority of mine for years, including in leading bipartisan legislation to require them,” Senator Capito said. “I applaud the EPA and Administrator Wheeler for starting the process to finally regulate these legacy ‘forever’ chemicals and provide Americans the certainty that the water they drink, cook and wash with, and bathe in is free of these harmful compounds. West Virginia is all too familiar with the challenges of PFAS contamination, and now communities around the country are realizing they also have challenges from PFAS pollution. Setting maximum contaminant levels for these two compounds is an essential step in addressing this human health and environmental issue and I look forward to continuing to work with the EPA to ensure standards are robust, scientifically-driven, and issued in a timely fashion.”

BACKGROUND:

PFAS are a group of thousands of manufactured chemicals that can seep into drinking water supplies and have contaminated communities in West Virginia and other states across the country.

In March 2019, Senator Capito warned EPA officials in an EPW hearing that they were “falling short” in their actions towards regulating PFAS.

In May 2019, Senator Capito introduced the Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act of 2019, bipartisan legislation that would require the EPA to establish an enforceable standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act for per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.

That month, she also introduced the PFAS Release Disclosure Act, legislation that would improve the availability of information related to perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bipartisan bill would provide a clear process for the EPA to identify and share with the public and policymakers sources of PFAS emissions around the country, while respecting the formal rulemaking processes and the latest science. That language was included in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and became law.

Additionally, Senator Capito secured language in the Fiscal Year 2019 Department of Defense Appropriations Act to reimburse the city of Martinsburg for the significant costs involved in upgrading Big Springs water treatment facility to address high levels of PFAS detected in the drinking water, as the federal government was responsible for the PFAS contamination.

Senator Capito also ensured Berkeley County was included in a joint study between the Department of Defense (DoD) and Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) on PFAS exposure in populations living and working on and around military bases.

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