Washington, DC —Today Rep. Ron Kind voted to pass the bipartisan PFAS Action Act, a comprehensive package that aims to protect Wisconsinites and our environment from harmful forever chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). This legislation, which Rep. Kind helped introduce earlier this year, will clean up these “forever chemicals,” which pose a direct threat to public health, and introduce stronger protections against future pollution.
PFAS is a growing public health and environmental threat with reports showing high levels of these forever chemicals in water across the country, including right here in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District. Recently, PFAS levels above recommended standards were discovered in Eau Claire and the Town of Campbell on French Island.
“PFAS contamination is an issue that hits close to home for too many Wisconsinites. It’s something my neighbors and I in La Crosse dealt with recently, and now the Eau Claire community is being affected as well,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “No Wisconsinite should have to worry about whether or not their drinking water is safe, or if their family might be exposed to these harmful chemicals. The PFAS Action Act will take important steps towards addressing this growing public health threat, and I’m glad to see this legislation pass with bipartisan support.”
“We applaud the work being done by Congress to help ensure Wisconsinites have safe, clean drinking water. At the Wisconsin DNR, we remain steadfast in our commitment to protecting the great people of Wisconsin and protecting our natural resources. The federal leadership and resources provided through this legislation will help us continue our work to ensure safe drinking water for all Wisconsinites,” said Secretary Preston D. Cole, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The PFAS Action Act would protect our air, land, and water from harmful PFAS contamination by:
- Requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS within two years that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations.
- Designating PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances within one year and requires EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
- Designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants within 180 days and requiring EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
- Requiring EPA to place discharge limits on industrial releases of PFAS and providing $200 million annually for wastewater treatment.
- Prohibiting unsafe incineration of PFAS wastes and places a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce.
- Requiring comprehensive PFAS health testing.
- Creating a voluntary label for PFAS in cookware.
PFAS chemicals have been found in the drinking water of over 50 cities across Wisconsin, with the highest levels detected in Marinette and Peshtigo. PFAS chemicals are persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic. These chemicals have been linked to harmful human health effects, including cancer, reproductive and developmental harms, and weaken immune systems. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), 328 military sites across the United States have PFAS contamination and over 200 million Americans are drinking contaminated water.
Rep. Kind is a member of the Congressional PFAS Task Force. Recently, Rep. Kind fought to ensure American Rescue Plan funds could be used to address PFAS contamination and helped introduce the bipartisan Test Your Well Water Act, which would provide Wisconsinites with resources to test their wells for PFAS. Additionally, during the 116th Congress, Rep. Kind joined 58 of his colleagues in calling for robust funding in the Fiscal Year 2021 spending bill to help communities across Wisconsin address PFAS and ensure clean water. Rep. Kind is also a cosponsor of the PFAS Right to Know Act, which would add PFAS to the TRI Toxic chemicals list and would make it possible to alert communities that are exposed to PFAS so they can take protective action.