Gov. Evers Urges Congress to Act on PFAS

On Sept. 18, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers joined a bipartisan group of 14 other governors in asking congressional armed services committees to include several provisions related to PFAS in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are manufactured chemicals that are found in many everyday products, including nonstick pans, cleaning products, paints, and firefighting foam. PFAS are present in the bloodstream of 98 percent of Americans. Competing studies debate whether or not PFAS have negative health effects, and, if they do, at what level they are harmful.

The governors’ letter asks the armed services committee leadership to include provisions in the NDAA to address PFAS contamination at federal Department of Defense sites. These military sites are often suspected to have higher levels of PFAS because of the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams.

However, the governors are seeking provisions that would apply much more broadly than the Department of Defense. In addition to phasing out the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foams and requiring military sites to work with states to remediate contamination, the letter asks Congress to:

  • Require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set an enforceable standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act for the two most-studied types of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS. The governors request preserving states’ ability to set more stringent standards than EPA. (However, Wisconsin law requires the state Department of Natural Resources to promulgate standards in accordance with federal numbers.)
  • Require EPA to list PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Contamination & Liability Act (CERCLA).
  • Require EPA to include PFAS as toxic pollutants under the Clean Water Act.

Wisconsin is in the process of promulgating regulations for PFAS chemicals at the state level. Read more at /pfas/.