WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Members of Congress are slamming the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest plan to clean up more than 400 PFAS contamination sites across the country.
Critics say the plan, a draft of which has been published online, weakens standards for ground and drinking water quality and lets the Department of Defense off the hook for remediation.
“We’re very concerned that the EPA isn’t moving as quickly as they can,” Melanie Benesh of the Environmental Working Group said. “The level that the EPA has proposed isn’t adequate to protect public health. … It means people are going to continue to be exposed. They may continue to be drinking dirty water and we think that’s unacceptable.”
The PFAS class of chemicals has been linked to certain types of cancer and other illnesses, including problems during pregnancy. The highest levels of PFAS have been discovered around military bases, where the chemical is used in firefighting foam.
The new EPA rules are a victory for the Department of Defense, which had been facing billions in immediate cleanup costs.
“I think this EPA has shown it’s not willing to do what’s got to be done,” Rep. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat from Michigan who sits on the bipartisan PFAS task force.
She said she and others will continue to press for stricter rules.
“The military, the Pentagon are also going to have to have responsibility whether they like it or not,” she said.
The proposed guidelines are open for 45 days of public comment. Lawmakers are planning additional hearings for the coming weeks.