Lawmakers Lean on EPA for Update on Regulations for Cancer Linked Chemical

WASHINGTON, D.C. – It’s a commonly used chemical found in products like nonstick cookware and cosmetics.

“It falls to us, the ordinary people, to prove that these chemicals are toxic before the chemicals are regulated by our government. That is simply backwards,” said Mark Ruffalo.  

This month the actor testified before the environmental subcommittee in House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform about the dangers of the cancer-linked chemical PFAS, often referred to as “forever chemicals.”

Ruffalo stars in the new film Dark Waters about a man’s struggle to expose what he described as corporate environmental crime related to the chemical.

While both Democrats and Republicans say they support efforts to ensure every American has access to clean drinking water, California Congressman Harley Rouda’s bill, that would force corporations to pay ongoing water treatment costs associated with contamination, has no Republican co-sponsors.  

“These chemicals have been cavalierly dumped by corporations in rivers and landfills, they have poisoned pregnant women and permanently injured and damaged their children who will suffer severe health problems for the rest of their lives,” said Rouda who chairs the subcommittee. 

“Thorough research has only been done on a small number of these compounds so we should be careful about taking any sweeping actions that could have the unattended consequence of negatively impacting a broad section of the economy including public entities like hospitals and airports,” said Kentucky Congressman James Comer, the ranking member on the subcommittee. 

House Democrats recently sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency asking them to turn over documents related to their plan to regulate PFAS, or polyfluoroalkyl substances.

When Spectrum News reached out to the EPA, they said the agency is on track to announce proposals by the end of the year and that they are letting the science dictate the regulatory process.

“We will respond through proper channels. The agency disputes Rouda and Kildee’s mischaracterization of the EPA’s PFAS Action Plan – the most comprehensive cross-agency plan to address an emerging chemical ever taken by EPA. EPA is letting the science dictate its regulatory process. It’s unfortunate that House Democrats are relying on Hollywood actors to dictate policymaking,” the agency said in a statement in response to the letter. 

“My firefighters union in Kentucky said that it is very important that they have the tools, when they became aware of these hearings, that they have the tools necessary to put out fires and to save their lives. This is something that has been used in the past to do good things,” added Comer. 

PFAS regulations are also included in the massive defense bill currently tied up on Capitol Hill.

According to Earth Justice, the chemical has polluted the tap water of at least 16 million people in 33 states and Puerto Rico.