To help deliver on the EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment, today Administrator Michael S. Regan issued a memorandum to EPA’s senior leadership calling for the creation of a new “EPA Council on PFAS” that is charged with building on the agency’s ongoing work to better understand and ultimately reduce the potential risks caused by these chemicals.
“Coming from North Carolina, I’ve seen first-hand how devastating these chemicals can be for communities and the need for strong EPA leadership,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “That’s why today, I am calling on our senior leadership to form a new Council that will identify pragmatic approaches that deliver critical protections to the American public. As one of my top priorities as Administrator, EPA will prioritize partnerships and collaboration with our federal, state, tribal and local partners, and engage the public about the risk associated with these chemicals.
Administrator Regan has asked Radhika Fox, Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Office of Water, and Deb Szaro, Acting Regional Administrator in Region 1, to convene and lead the EPA Council on PFAS, which will be comprised of senior EPA career officials from across the agency.
“I’m honored to Co-Chair the EPA Council on PFAS and to work collaboratively with colleagues across our national program offices and our regions to forge meaningful and sustained progress on PFAS,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Water Radhika Fox. “By taking a whole of EPA approach, the Council will accelerate scientific work, regulatory action, and voluntary approaches to address PFAS contamination and better protect the health of all Americans.”
“I am very proud to be asked by Administrator Regan to help lead the new EPA Council on PFAS,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. “These chemicals are a significant concern throughout the six New England states, and we understand that state and local officials, as well as ordinary citizens are looking for EPA to provide leadership on how to address PFAS chemicals that are being detected in the environment to ensure we are protecting people’s health. Our work will be based on science and will be conducted with transparency.”
“This is among the most complex environmental challenges facing states today, and it will take close coordination and partnership across all levels of government to tackle it,” said ECOS President Patrick McDonnell, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. “States appreciate the opportunity to engage with EPA to help develop appropriate and workable strategies to address PFAS and to protect public health.”
The agency’s ongoing work on PFAS is based on the 2019 EPA PFAS Action Plan. Developed by EPA career staff, the plan identifies an agenda and actions that have yet to be realized. Over the past few years, science has progressed rapidly, and the agency must move forward with actions that are based on this new science and a better understanding of the complex challenges so many communities are facing. To address these challenges and meet the needs of our partners and communities across the United States, Administrator Regan is directing the EPA Council on PFAS (ECP) to:
- Develop “PFAS 2021-2025 – Safeguarding America’s Waters, Air and Land,” a multi-year strategy to deliver critical public health protections to the American public. To develop the strategy, the ECP will review all ongoing actions, propose any necessary modifications, and identify new strategies and priorities. The ECP shall make initial recommendations within 100 days of its establishment.
- Continue close interagency coordination on regional specific and cross-media issues to assist states, Tribes, and local communities faced with significant and complex PFAS challenges.
- Work with all national program offices and regions to maximize the impact of EPA’s funding and financing programs and leverage federal and state funds to support cleanup of PFAS pollution, particularly in underserved communities.
- Expand engagement opportunities with federal, state, and tribal partners to ensure consistent communications, exchange information, and identify collaborative solutions.
The ECP’s work will build on the important steps the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to address these chemicals, including pulling down and updating a PFBS toxicity assessment that had been politically compromised and issued a new assessment backed by career scientists. EPA has also taken action to begin to develop a national primary drinking water regulation, to collect new data critically needed to improve EPA’s understanding of 29 PFAS, and to solicit data on the presence and treatment of PFAS in wastewater discharges. The agency also strongly supports President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, which calls for investing billions of dollars to monitor and treat PFAS in drinking water.