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Federal agencies are behind on a third of promised PFAS measures

The Environmental Protection Agency now says there's no safe amount of PFAS in drinking water. (Jim Cole/AP)
The Environmental Protection Agency now says there's no safe amount of PFAS in drinking water. (Jim Cole/AP)

A new report card details how federal agencies are failing to meet their promises and deadlines to address toxic PFAS chemicals.

In the fall, the Environmental Working Group reported that federal agencies had either achieved or were on track to meet 90% of their promises, but now over a third of the proposed measures have been delayed.

According to the report card, the EPA has fallen short on restricting PFAS releases into waterways, monitoring PFAS in air emissions, and announcing national drinking water standards.

Melanie Benesh is with the Environmental Working Group. She said there is no real reason for these delays, and by failing to act, the Biden administration is endangering the public.

“We've got plenty of PFAS, and we've got plenty of money, the only thing we're really lacking is resolve...” Benesh said. “When you're in a hole, you really should stop digging. And when your rivers and lakes are full of PFAS, you should stop discharging.”

The report found the backlog of overdue actions doubled after agencies missed key milestones in late 2022.

John Reeder is with the Environmental Working Group. He said the public can’t afford any more delays from agencies like the EPA, Department of Defense, or Food and Drug Administration.

“For contaminated communities, further delays are unacceptable,” Reeder said. “Now's the time to go faster, not slower, and not let polluters in their corporate lobbyists throw sand in the gears.”

One of the most notable delayed promises is a federal drinking water standard for two PFAS chemicals, which has been sitting in the White House since October with no action.

For the full report card, visit the EWG website here.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corps Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She covers rural environmental issues, focused on contamination, conservation, and climate change.
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