Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) voted to pass a landmark bipartisan bill that aims to protect every Central Valley family from dangerous chemicals in their water. While California requires the reporting of PFAS, neither the state nor the federal government set safe drinking water standards. The PFAS Action Act of 2021 will establish a national drinking water standard for select per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that currently impact water systems in Modesto, Lathrop, Sacramento, Stockton and other communities around the Central Valley. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) over 200 million Americans are drinking contaminated water.
“Every family deserves access to clean, safe drinking water. It’s as simple as that,” said Rep. Harder. “This legislation will do a world of good for families in Modesto, Lathrop, and across the Central Valley. We know where this problem is, we know how to fix it, we’ve got bipartisan support do it, so let’s get it done.”
The PFAS Action Act would do the following to protect air, land, and water from harmful PFAS contamination:
· Require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to establish a national drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS within two years that protects public health, including the health of vulnerable subpopulations.
· Designate PFOA and PFOS chemicals as hazardous substances within one year and requires EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
· Designate PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants within 180 days and requires EPA to determine whether to list other PFAS within five years.
· Require EPA to place discharge limits on industrial releases of PFAS and provides $200 million annually for wastewater treatment.
· Prohibit unsafe incineration of PFAS wastes and places a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce.
· Require comprehensive PFAS health testing.
· Create a voluntary label for PFAS in cookware.
Also, Rep. Harder recently led a successful effort to include resources for farmers impacted by drought and wildfire in the bipartisan 2020 WHIP+ Reauthorization Act. Currently, the Wildfire and Hurricane Indemnity Program Plus (WHIP+) can only provide direct assistance to farmers who experienced crop loss due to qualifying natural disasters in 2018 and 2019. Rep. Harder’s language will open up funds to farmers who have lost crops to drought, fire, and other natural disasters in 2020 and 2021. Farmers can apply for funds through the US Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency. Right now, the Central Valley is experiencing one of the worst droughts in its history and farmers across the region are already choosing to fallow fields instead of plant new crops.
“Central Valley farmers don’t just need help with the losses they suffered years ago, they need help with the losses they’re suffering right now. The drought and wildfires we’re seeing this year are nothing short of unprecedented, so our farmers deserve an unprecedented amount of resources to get through them,” said Rep. Harder. “Since I first got to Congress, I’ve been pushing to get our farmers the resources they need, and I’m proud to have secured new funds for them in this bill.”