Bennet Statement on EPA’s Insufficient Plan to Address Water Contamination

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today issued the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its long-awaited Action Plan to address Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), chemicals that have contaminated drinking water sources in Colorado and across the country.

“Every person in this country should have access to safe drinking water,” Bennet said. “Unfortunately, the EPA’s Action Plan falls short of addressing the serious health threats PFAS pose in drinking water across the country. While the greater focus on these chemicals is welcome, there is very little in the Action Plan that will ease Coloradan’s valid concerns.

“It is unacceptable for the administration to drag its heels when it comes to the health and safety of our drinking water. That’s why I’ve pressed for a nationwide study on the health effects of PFAS, and called on the Defense Department to reimburse Colorado water districts for costs they incurred while providing clean water to local residents. I’ll continue working in Congress to hold the EPA accountable, and I encourage my colleagues to take a hard look at Mr. Wheeler’s concerning approach to PFAS before voting for him to lead the EPA. We owe Americans more.”

For the last two years, Bennet has worked to address the health effects, cleanup, and reimbursement issues associated with PFAS.

In 2017:

  • Bennet pushed for a nationwide study on the health effects of PFAS and for additional funding for remediation and clean up.
  • Bennet secured $10 million for the nationwide Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study in the 2018 omnibus package.
  • Bennet secured an additional $44 million in funding for Air Force environmental restoration and remediation in the 2018 omnibus package. A significant amount of that funding was used for remediation around Peterson AFB in Colorado.
  • Bennet supported a provision in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that required a plan on how the Department of Defense might reimburse state or municipal agencies that expended funds to provide alternative water supplies.

In 2018:

  • Bennet wrote to the CDC to ask that the nationwide study include communities in Colorado near Peterson AFB.
  • Bennet visited communities around Peterson Air Force Base to receive an update on remediation efforts. There, Bennet also received an update on the challenges water districts are having receiving reimbursement for steps they took to clean up drinking water.
  • Bennet demanded the Trump administration (CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) release the results of a study regarding what levels of certain chemicals are safe in drinking water. According to news reports at the time, the EPA had been working to block the release of results from a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study on the toxicity of certain PFAS.
  • Bennet passed an amendment to provide funding for the Department of Defense to reimburse state and municipal water authorities for actions they took to clean up and mitigate PFAS in drinking water. The amendment was included in the Department of Defense-Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate in 2018. The provision was not included in the final version of the bill that was signed into law.
  • Bennet wrote to the CDC/ASTDR to voice disappointment that the CDC will not include military and civilian firefighters in its investigations of the human health effects of  PFAS contamination pursuant to Section 316 of the FY19 NDAA.