Addressing America’s PFAS issue cannot wait forever

By Sen. Shelley Moore Capito | Roll Call | September 12, 2023

Read the full article by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (Roll Call)

"This fall, Congress has an opportunity to address an issue that impacts the health and safety of many of our constituents. PFAS — commonly called “forever chemicals” since they do not degrade in the environment — have been found nationwide. We shouldn’t hesitate to deliver solutions that clean up and reduce risks posed by PFAS in a scientific, bipartisan, and responsible manner.

I’ve championed efforts on PFAS cleanups for years as West Virginia has borne the weight, and been a leader among the states, in documenting and addressing PFAS contamination. Most recently I offered a draft of bipartisan legislation alongside Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman Thomas R. Carper, D-Del., for public input. We received hundreds of comments from local and state government, industrial, utility, and environmental stakeholders, and the message repeated more than any other was this: The polluters should pay for the cleanup, not taxpayers or utility ratepayers.

The law that most clearly enshrines the “polluter pays” principle and will be essential to addressing PFAS pollution is the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). However, CERCLA, which was enacted more than 40 years ago, was designed to address one hazardous substance at a time and assumed contamination in specific sites. It was not written to address a challenge like PFAS, a group of thousands of chemicals that can be found in the environment almost anywhere you look."