President Biden has pledged to take quick action on toxic fluorinated ‘forever chemicals’ known as PFAS “by designating PFAS as a hazardous substance, setting enforceable limits for PFAS in the Safe Drinking Water Act, prioritizing substitutes through procurement, and accelerating toxicity studies and research on PFAS.” These are welcome—and necessary—steps that must be taken to address this toxic pollution, but there’s a lot more the Biden administration can do.
The Trump Dirty Water Rule (AKA the "Navigable Waters Protection Rule”) eliminated Clean Water Act protections for certain streams and wetlands. U.S. Environmental Protect Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan has said the rule is “leading to significant environmental degradation.” Earlier this summer EPA announced that it will revoke the Dirty Water Rule and replace it with a rule that is more protective of vital water bodies. In August EPA held a series of listening sessions to gather public input on its plan. This is the testimony I gave to EPA.
I’ve been working on the question of what water should be protected by the Clean Water Act for 19 years. Polluters and their allies in Congress have been trying to remove some water bodies from the Act’s jurisdiction for just as long, so you would think I ran out of outrage a long time ago. But no.