Rep. Gallagher Talks PFAS on the House Floor

January 17, 2020
Press Release

Today on the House Floor, Rep. Gallagher delivered a speech on the harmful effects of PFAS.

Read the full text of the speech below:

"Last week the House passed H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act of 2019. This important legislation marks a critical step forward in addressing the public health crisis caused by “forever chemicals” like PFAS. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, certain compounds of PFAS like PFOA and PFOS are known to cause liver damage, thyroid disease, asthma, birth defects, and even some cancers. And unfortunately, for many in Northeast Wisconsin, this fight is personal.

Anyone who’s been to our small corner of the country knows that water is part of what makes Northeast Wisconsin so special. Unfortunately, this water, which is so central to our way of life, is under threat from chemicals like PFOA and PFOS.

While until recently PFAS was an unknown contaminant, recent studies give us a better understanding of the risks posed by compounds like PFOA and PFOS. Not only have our communities been unwittingly placed at risk by these toxins, but it has taken far too long to get them the resources required to mitigate their effects. As a result, these toxic chemicals have contaminated local water sources and literally poisoned the well from which Wisconsinites drink.

No one should be afraid to drink or use the water from their tap. The fact that this is the case for many across the country – including in Northeast Wisconsin – means one thing: we must act with a sense of urgency to defend our communities and protect the clean water that underpins our way of life.

As a member of the PFAS Taskforce, I am committed to finding ways to combat PFAS and its negative effects on our communities. Last year, Representative Delgado and I introduced the PFAS Right-To-Know Act, a bipartisan bill that would require PFAS to be listed on the Toxic Release Inventory and require manufacturers, processors, and producers to report their usage of PFAS chemicals to the EPA. Signed into law last month as part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, this bill provides communities with a better understanding of where these toxins come from so we can better combat their effects.

But while this was an important first step, there is more to be done. The PFAS Action Act builds on last year’s progress on through a number of important provisions. It designates PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances to ensure that all those responsible for contamination do their part to clean up and restore our waters and habitats. It establishes stronger drinking water standards to give states and communities the resources they need to mitigate contamination. And it strengthens the Clean Water Act to include PFOS and PFOA as toxic pollutants. This legislation will be crucial in protecting waters in Northeast Wisconsin and across the country for current and future generations.

When it comes to the PFAS crisis, inaction is not an option. The PFAS Action Act is a thorough, comprehensive, and long overdue solution. I want to thank Representatives Pallone and Dingell for their leadership, as well as my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their hard work in protecting our water and our communities."

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