Rep. Harley Rouda Leads Bill to Fight Toxic Chemical Epidemic
Washington, D.C. - Rep. Harley Rouda (CA-48) introduced the PFAS User Fee Act of 2019, H.R. 2570, to hold PFAS polluters accountable for their role in a nationwide contamination crisis.
Said Rouda “Communities across the country continue to suffer from decades of exposure to contaminated water. All the while, manufacturers have known the hazards, and taken active steps to bury unfavorable research and fight off regulations. Their actions put vulnerable communities, including military servicemembers, at high risk of cancer and other deadly health defects. Congress must finally take action to hold industry accountable, and to clean up the water and air contaminants millions of Americans drink and breathe.”
Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a class of toxic man-made chemicals often referred to as PFAS chemicals, are known for their remarkable persistence and mobility – they are not known to break down in the environment and easily move through soil to drinking water systems. PFAS chemicals are found in everyday items such as Teflon, fast-food wrappers, and fire-fighting foam used on military bases. Serious health effects resulting from exposure include but are not limited to cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility, birth defects, and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.
The bill comes on the heels of new analysis published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) and Northeastern University earlier this week that finds that 610 locations in 43 states have water sources containing PFAS – these sources serve upwards of 19 million people across the country. According to the report, California has 47 known contamination sites – only behind Michigan’s 192 identified sites, the result of increased water monitoring in the aftermath of Flint.
For decades, chemical manufacturers have known that these chemicals are extremely hazardous to human health. This bill would require PFAS manufacturers to pay a fee into a trust fund that would be used to provide grants to communities and water systems dealing with contamination issues.
Rep. Rouda is Chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform’s Environment Subcommittee and a member of the bipartisan PFAS Task Force. The first Subcommittee hearing focused on examining PFAS chemicals and their risks; the members of the Subcommittee questioned EPA and DOD on their response to these ‘forever chemicals’. The Energy and Commerce Committee plans to consider this bill and other related legislation to address PFAS contamination in the coming month.