Senator Stabenow Advocates for Strong PFAS Clean Up Standards and Action from Congress at Senate Hearing

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Debbie Stabenow today spoke at a U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works hearing to push for strong standards on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly known as PFAS, as a way to expedite clean up around military bases in Michigan.


Senator Stabenow introduced two new bills to address PFAS at military bases this week. The Clean Water for Military Families Act and the Filthy Fifty Act direct the Department of Defense to identify and clean up PFAS at U.S. military installations with some of the highest levels of PFAS contamination in the country. Contamination from PFAS chemicals, which have been used in firefighting foam and other manufacturing products, is a serious issue affecting drinking water for Michigan families. A recent study showed that up to 110 million Americans might be drinking PFAS-contaminated water and that Michigan has the most PFAS-contaminated sites in the country. Exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to cancer and other diseases.


A video of Senator Stabenows questioning can be found here. A transcript as prepared for delivery is below.


“Secretary Kenney – I strongly support establishing strong national drinking water and cleanup standards for PFAS. But I am concerned about what happens before federal standards are in place.


“Like New Mexico, Michigan has significant challenges when it comes to working with the Defense Department to address PFAS contamination on military bases.

PFAS has been detected on at least 10 bases in Michigan. At one base, we have had readings as high as 32,200 parts per trillion.


“And at some of our bases – such as Wurtsmith in Oscoda and Camp Grayling in Grayling– we have PFAS migrating off base and into surrounding water bodies. These lakes and streams are sometimes covered by thick foam as a result of the PFAS migrating from the bases. We have had test results showing contamination at times pouring out of Selfridge Air National Guard Base into the Clinton River and Lake St. Clair, which is the source of drinking water for nearby municipalities.


“The state of Michigan has established its own drinking and groundwater standards for numerous PFAS. Current federal law is pretty clear: in the absence of a national standard, the Defense Department is to comply with state standards.


“Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what’s happening or at least not quickly enough. Secretary Kenney, I know New Mexico has been urging the Department of Defense to support PFAS cleanup, and is currently in court to try to force that to happen.


“In the absence of federal standards, what can Congress can do to expedite clean up by the Department of Defense? Do we need to look at establishing new polices for interim cleanup standards? What ways can we compel clean up action as we await national PFAS standards?”