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E&C Republicans Speak Out Against Overreaching PFAS Action Act


07.21.21

Washington, D.C. — Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee spoke in opposition to H.R. 2467, the PFAS Action Act, on the House floor today.

Below are remarks and excerpts from Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans as prepared for delivery:

Energy & Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA):

“I want strong scientific backing for anything we do to address PFAS chemicals. I am concerned that the mandates in the PFAS Action Act will frustrate EPA’s existing, science-based plans.

“This bill instead will cement policy choices with long-range implications. It will overwhelm EPA’s existing resources to tackle environmental and public health challenges beyond PFAS. The PFAS Action Act is not a measured approach. It prejudges outcomes – showing little regard for objective science, risk assessment, transparency, and public comment.”

[…]

“This bill essentially bans the materials that are necessary for America to win the future. That includes protective gear for law enforcement at a time when violent crime is surging in America.

“In drafting this legislation over two Congresses, the Majority never called EPA in to testify on the bill. Now, we’re left with the opinions of the politicians and the White House, NOT the career scientists and experts who will have to implement it. So much for the Democrats’ ‘Trust-the-Scientists’ talking point from the last four years.”

[…]

“We all want a good solution to address PFAS contamination; but this bill falls short.”

Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN):

“I support the efforts to address dangerous high levels of PFAS in our drinking water systems and other areas of our environment. That is why I submitted a bipartisan amendment with Mr. Schrader that would simply exempt PFAS used to manufacture medical devices and drugs approved by the F.D.A., a very limited amendment.

“Polytetrafluoroethylene, PTFE, seen in the graft on the board behind me is used to treat a defect in young children. Thanks to great advancements in medical technology like this, the procedure is now done in an outpatient setting rather than open heart surgery.

“For years I did open heart surgeries on people with ASDs and now they can repair them with a device. This is one example of a device that could be banned. Vascular grafts to stop aneurysms or help bypassed blocked arteries are other examples. I implanted hundreds of these types of devices in patients.

“The fact of the matter is its been shown over and over that PTFE in devices poses no risk to people or to our environment. The bill in its current form fails to consider that fact and jeopardizes patient access to lifesaving drugs and devices leaving physicians and patients with no viable alternative or an inferior alternative.

“Would anyone want to be treated with an inferior alternative when we’re unnecessarily banning the best treatment? I would argue no.”

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI):

“We formed the Congressional PFAS Task Force, and pushed for essential resources for PFAS research and cleanup efforts. Many of our efforts have been enacted into law, and countless cleanup efforts are currently ongoing at all levels government.  In fact, over half of the provisions in this bill are already underway at the EPA.

“Unfortunately, other provisions in this bill would require the EPA to take a misguided approach by considering the group of the more than 600 PFAS currently on the market, and the thousands of other unknown potential PFAS chemistries, as if they were all the same.

“Make no mistake: I believe this is a serious problem, and it deserves a serious solution. But the bill before us today, although well-intended, simply goes too far.

“H.R. 2467 is so expansive that the CBO was unable to assign it a budgetary score – underscoring the untold cost and liability that it will impose on thousands, if not millions of manufacturers and consumers alike.

“H.R. 2467 represents the largest expansion of regulatory authority at the EPA – or perhaps any federal agency – in decades.

“But even more so, this bill will hamstring our small businesses, manufacturers, and water utilities by forcing them to take on so much cost and liability that they will be unable to comply, or forced to raise prices and hire armies of attorneys – all because Congress decided to substitute its political agenda for objective scientific judgement.

“The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) recently wrote to me regarding their concerns about this bill. A leading drinking water and wastewater treatment provider for Southeast Michigan communities, GLWA provides clean drinking water to nearly 40 percent of Michiganders. They told me this bill could likely cause them to be liable for trying to dispose of PFAS even if they are using current best practices.

“As many would say, we ought to “follow the science” by letting the experts at EPA do their jobs, and refrain from prejudging outcomes, overhauling existing regulatory structure, and most importantly – crippling our economy.”

Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND):

“My colleagues argue that people do not have to worry about superfund liability if they do not cause environmental harm.

“This argument is false. Superfund liability is strict liability. If a party has any involvement they are liable. Period. End of story. That strict liability is what causes concern and is why Mr. Burgess offered an amendment to make only those who cause pollution pay for its cleanup.

“For some reason the majority found an issue with that amendment and prevented its commonsense consideration.”

Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL):

“This misguided bill treats all PFAS chemicals the same way, creating a de facto ban on many lifesaving products that Americans rely on.

“By voting for this bill, my Democrat colleagues are ignoring the science, including peer reviewed research that clearly shows that certain fluoropolymers, including some that have been used for more than 50 years, do not present a concern for human health or the environment.

“Despite this evidence, my Democrat colleagues have refused to make reasonable changes to this bill so that fluoropolymer chemicals used in FDA-approved medical devices are not labeled hazardous substances under CERCLA and the Clean Air Act.

“Let me put it bluntly: by not exempting the fluoropolymers used in medical devices – already approved by the FDA – you are denying people access to life-saving products such as heart valves for infants and grafts for aortic aneurysm repairs.”

[…]

“This bill would put millions of Americans who have already received medical devices containing fluoropolymers at risk. As noted in committee by my colleague Dr. Larry Bucshon, with the passage of this bill, the FDA might have to designate all devices with any fluoropolymers as ‘hazardous’ and recall them.”

Rep. John Joyce (R-PA):

“PFAS materials have a variety of uses in health care, ranging from cardiac stents to coating contact lenses. Thanks to technology developed using PFAS materials, surgeries – such as one needed to repair a child’s congenital heart defect – no longer require risky open-heart surgery and can simply be done through their arm.”

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“Of course, we don’t want dangerous chemicals in our water supply. But, to outright ban a whole family of products is not the answer.”

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