PFAS Update: Urging Senate Majority Leader Schumer to make Clean Water A Priority

While infrastructure bills are being debated in Washington DC, NYLCV is working hard to make sure that the NY delegation delivers outcomes that include big wins for the environment. Recently, NYLCV joined a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer to make clean drinking water a priority. Specifically, the letter calls for the Senate to strongly consider adopting policies advocated in the US House INVEST Act (H.R. 3684), which provides necessary funding to remove toxic “PFAS” chemicals from our drinking water. 

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS is an umbrella term for man-made “forever” chemicals such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) that have been used for products ranging from clothing to non-stick pans. According to the CDC, human exposure to PFAS have been linked to increases in cancer, infertility, and harm to our immune systems. PFAS largely comes from industrial discharge that seeps into our water supply. Recently, a study even found that PFAS exposure increases the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. More than 2,300 communities throughout the country have confirmed levels of PFAS in their drinking water, with 14 specifically in New York.

 Although the Federal Environmental Protection Agency and the State of New York are in the process of setting and enforcing their own maximum containment levels for PFAS, funding is still necessary to lower and eventually eliminate these harmful chemicals in our drinking water. The INVEST Act provides such funding by allocating $500 million to help local water utilities to filter PFAS out of our tap water, as well as $200 million in annual funding to help wastewater treatment plants limit PFAS discharge. Lastly, the bill sets strict deadlines for the EPA to enact standards that limit industrial PFAS discharge into our water. 

In pressuring Congress to make PFAS pollution cleanup a priority, NYLCV joined the following NY-based partners who signed this letter: Clean and Healthy New York, Environmental Advocates NY, Great Neck Breast Cancer Coalition, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Huntington Breast Cancer Action Coalition, Moms for a Non-Toxic NY, New York Public Interest Research Group, New York Sustainable Business Council, PfoaProjectNY, Riverkeeper, Inc., Stewart Air National Guard Base Restoration Advisory Council Community Members, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice. NYLCV is committed to removing PFAS from New York’s drinking water, and we will be monitoring the progress of this effort and report back in the future. 

By: Jacob Rosenberg