Protecting Maine People from PFAS

Hello, this is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening.

PFAS are widely used and long lasting chemicals that break down slowly over time, and that threaten the health of our people, our wildlife, and our environment. That's why my Administration has worked with the Legislature to implement one of the strongest efforts in the nation to address PFAS contamination in Maine.

In 2021, the Legislature passed, and I signed, nation-leading legislation establishing an interim standard to regulate the presence of PFAS in drinking water. The standard we created in state law was only temporary because we knew that the federal government was going to work on this on its own and issue its own standard. This week, the United States Environmental Protection Agency released its final, national drinking water standard for PFAS.

The Maine CDC is closely reviewing these new Federal standards, which apply only to public drinking water systems, and they will propose a final state standard that brings our drinking water requirements into alignment. The Federal government has given states five years, and additional funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to implement these new standards. That's a recognition that PFAS contamination is a nationwide challenge and Maine is ahead of the curve.

I appreciate this action by the federal government because it builds on our work to protect the health of Maine people from PFAS.

That work started just three months after I took office, when I established a Governor's Task Force to review the prevalence of PFAS in Maine and to put forward a plan to address it.

Led by that Task Force, Maine has dedicated tens of millions of dollars in state funding to remediate PFAS contamination in drinking water treatment systems.

We have also established screening levels for PFAS in soil, fish tissue and milk. And we've have prohibited the spreading of sludge, a widespread source of PFAS historically.

We have established a $60 million PFAS Fund to support farmers whose land and or water has been tested as having a high level of PFAS. We want these farms to survive, we want to remediate any damage to their soil and water, and make sure they stay in business.

We have dedicated funding to test hundreds of deer, turkey and fish to better understand how PFAS in the environment impacts Maine's fish and wildlife.

And we've have expanded the statute of limitations for Maine citizens to file claims related to PFAS contamination and Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey has sued PFAS manufacturers for the damage they have caused. That lawsuit is still pending.

In all, my Administration has worked with the Legislature to dedicate more than $100 million over the past several years to reduce PFAS contamination in Maine and to protect the health of our people, our wildlife, and our environment.

We know there's more to work to do too. So, my Administration will be reviewing this new Federal standard for drinking water, and the science supporting it, to inform our future actions in dealing with PFAS contamination in Maine. This is a nationwide challenge, but I am proud that we are leading the nation when it comes to addressing this.

This is Governor Janet Mills and thank you for listening. Happy Patriot's Day!