Pallone Floor Statement on H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act
Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following remarks on the House Floor today during consideration of H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act of 2021:
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, is a comprehensive package of strategies to regulate PFAS chemicals, clean up contamination, and protect public health. I am proud to support this bipartisan bill, which will deliver the tools communities across the country need to get PFAS out of our environment and out of the pathways that lead to our bodies.
PFAS are an urgent public health threat. They are toxic, persistent, and being found in the environment across the country. Just how common are they? A recent report from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry concluded, and I’m quoting “most people in the United States have been exposed to PFAS and have PFAS in their blood.” That finding is pretty astounding and incredibly concerning to families across the nation.
After all, these “forever chemicals” have long been linked with adverse health effects including cancer, immune system effects, infertility, impaired child development, high cholesterol, and thyroid disease.
Industry has known about these dangers for decades, but we still have no federal protections from PFAS in drinking water, no limits on PFAS air emissions, no federal cleanup requirements for PFAS sites, and no limits on dumping PFAS into our waterways. We don’t even have labeling of PFAS ingredients to allow consumers to protect themselves.
Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is playing catch up after four years of little action by the Trump administration. This bill will help EPA tackle the complex challenge of PFAS, by taking direct action on the two most studied PFAS, PFOS and PFOA right away, while setting a reasonable timeline to study and evaluate other PFAS. This approach puts the focus on following the science by tailoring testing to relevant subgroups of PFAS and focusing regulation on the riskiest chemicals.
Over a decade ago, PFOA and PFOS were voluntarily phased out by industry. While no longer in use, they continue to threaten public health because of widespread environmental contamination. This bill will drive environmental cleanups of that contamination and drinking water treatment, addressing the threat of PFOA and PFOS to communities across the nation.
All other PFAS will be tested as appropriate. And where that testing reveals risks, this bill will ensure that EPA takes timely action to prevent and mitigate environmental contamination.
In the meantime, this bill will pause the introduction of untested new PFAS, while providing guidance and labels to help first responders and consumers limit their risk.
Mr. Speaker, the longer we delay action on PFAS, the worse the problem becomes. It is time for Congress to act and use every tool available to stop the flow of PFAS pollution into our environment and our bodies.
A version of this bill passed overwhelmingly last Congress with significant bipartisan support. It is championed by its bipartisan authors Representatives Dingell and Upton of Michigan. I commend them for their continued leadership on this legislation. I also thank Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Chairman Tonko and Ranking Member McKinley for their continued support.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot delay action any longer. We should pass this bipartisan legislation today. I urge my colleagues to vote for the PFAS Action Act so that we can finally take action on these dangerous forever chemicals. And I reserve the balance of my time.