In Letter to Maine's Congressional Delegation, Governor Mills Urges Federal Government To Provide Funding to Address PFAS Contamination; Outlines Regulatory Actions to Assist Maine's Response
March 31, 2021
For more information contact: Jim Britt at: Jim.Britt@maine.gov
AUGUSTA, Maine - In a letter to Maine's Congressional Delegation, Governor Janet Mills this week requested that the Federal government provide dedicated funding to address the growing issue of PFAS both in Maine and across the country. The Governor, who thanked the Congressional Delegation for their ongoing work on the issue, also outlined a slate of steps the Federal government could take to assist Maine in its efforts to address PFAS contamination.
"Contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has emerged as a serious issue in Maine, including impacting public and private drinking water and some farms to date," wrote Governor Mills. "Maine's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), and Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) need critical resources to better determine, assess, and mitigate PFAS contamination in the state, as well as support those with contaminated lands and/or water."
The Governor's message included six detailed actions her administration will take around PFAS. She also suggested eleven critical regulatory and funding actions for a national strategy to support a PFAS response.
"With an infusion of federal funds, Maine could more broadly and aggressively undertake these critically needed actions," Governor Mills wrote. "PFAS contamination is not a Maine problem; it is a national problem that ultimately requires a federal response. [...] Maine is currently on the front edge of PFAS discovery and response, and by having the resources and support in the form of Federal leadership as we navigate this incredibly complex and devastating issue, it will ultimately benefit other states as they begin to grapple with the impacts of PFAS contamination."
The full text of the letter is available below:
March 25, 2021
The Honorable Susan Collins
The Honorable Angus King
The Honorable Chellie Pingree
The Honorable Jared Golden
Re: Request for federal funding to address contamination from per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)
Dear Senators Collins and King, and Representatives Pingree and Golden,
As you know, contamination from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) has emerged as a serious issue in Maine, including impacting public and private drinking water and some farms to date. Maine's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF), and Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) need critical resources to better determine, assess, and mitigate PFAS contamination in the state, as well as support those with contaminated lands and/or water. Maine needs immediate federal funding to begin taking the following actions:
- Ramp up efforts to protect citizens from exposure to unsafe levels of PFAS, including by addressing PFAS in wastewater treatment plant residuals, landfill leachate, fire-fighting foam, or other sources.
- Expand sampling and analysis of water, soil, milk, animal feed, and other media.
- Expand live and post-mortem sampling and analysis of livestock.
- Provide funding to install water treatment to remove PFAS from impacted drinking water sources.
- Provide direct financial support so farms facing PFAS contamination can remain viable and citizens can obtain water treatment systems and support.
- Partner with our land grant and other research universities to expand PFAS research and PFAS-mitigation and remediation strategies specific to Maine's natural resource and climate conditions.
Our agencies are currently hard at work responding to the emerging threat of PFAS. However, with an infusion of federal funds, Maine could more broadly and aggressively undertake these critically needed actions. Of course, PFAS contamination is not a Maine problem; it is a national problem that ultimately requires a federal response. In addition to supporting our state-led efforts, we encourage the federal government to act quickly and decisively in its own right. We strenuously urge the following regulatory and funding actions:
- Congress should add PFAS to the hazardous substance list under the authority of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), with some exceptions for entities such as water and wastewater utilities.
- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should expeditiously establish a Maximum Contaminant Level for PFAS in drinking water. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) should apply that same standard to bottled water.
- The EPA should move expeditiously with its development of IRIS toxicity values for other PFAS that are needed now to assess the presence in the environment. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry should finalize toxicity values for PFAS commonly found in environmental samples.
- The EPA should certify additional laboratory methods to measure PFAS in various media (groundwater, wastewater, soils, and other solids, and ambient air).
- The EPA should publish and update Regional Screening Levels to include additional screening level guidelines for PFAS as toxicity levels become available.
- The EPA and USDA should invest in agronomic research so we can better understand PFAS uptake into plants and animals to help reduce PFAS exposure in our food supply and promote farm viability. This research should include the investigation of PFAS uptake from residual treated soils and soil-to-groundwater modeling, as well as the investigation of PFAS tolerant crops that can be grown safely on contaminated land.
- The USDA should improve and expand the Farm Service Agency's Dairy Indemnity Payment Program (DIPP) to provide funding support for all farmers impacted by PFAS contamination-including animal feed, livestock, and specialty crop growers as well as dairy producers. The program's timeframe for support should increase from 18 months to 36. Payments to farmers for the value of their livestock should be included, as well as to cover depopulation expenses. Improving the DIPP program should continue to fund income replacement and grow to underwrite costs (including testing and remediation) associated with a longer-term return to farm viability.
- The FDA should establish PFAS adulteration levels for foods and regulatory limits for food packaging to minimize dietary exposures.
- The FDA should expand its published testing methodologies for PFAS in food.
- The federal government should require manufacturers to reduce and eliminate the use of PFAS in non-essential applications, with particular focus on those uses with the highest potential for human exposure. Manufacturers (domestic and foreign) of consumer products should be required to report their use of PFAS compounds in products sold in the United States.
- The federal government should invest further in research into PFAS health effects, environmental fate and transport, and treatment and destruction technologies.
As outlined above, there are urgent needs in Maine that need to be addressed at both the federal and state level. Maine is currently on the front edge of PFAS discovery and response, and by having the resources and support in the form of Federal leadership as we navigate this incredibly complex and devastating issue, it will ultimately benefit other states as they begin to grapple with the impacts of PFAS contamination.
Your ongoing advocacy on behalf of the health of our wonderful state is greatly appreciated, and I thank you for all that you do on a daily basis to improve the lives of all Mainers.
Janet T. Mills Governor