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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter

Representing the 1st District of New Hampshire

Shea-Porter Calls for Hearings Into EPA Concealment of Research on the Health Impacts of PFAS Chemicals

May 14, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC— Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) today sent a letter to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee asking it to investigate and hold hearings after reports that the White House and EPA concealed a critical report on the health impacts of PFAS chemicals, such as those that contaminated the groundwater around Pease:

“Public office is a public trust, and public officials have a moral obligation to the people they serve to tell them the truth,” said Shea-Porter. “The Trump Administration has decided to hold back a federal scientific study on the health impacts of PFAS chemicals because they say it would be a ‘public relations nightmare.’ There are few words that can adequately describe this outrageous and unacceptable decision to conceal critical public health research.

“Public officials not only have a moral obligation to tell families about their level of exposure to dangerous chemicals and what those chemicals can do to their health, but they also have an obligation to invest whatever it takes to protect the public and clean up the contamination. Sadly, the administration is failing on all fronts. Now is the time to tell the truth. Americans who have been exposed to these chemicals deserve no less.

“That lobbyists, industry insiders, and political appointees could have played a role in the decision not to release this study is beyond the pale. Congress must hold hearings and investigate how it is possible that the EPA, the White House, and HHS have, for months, possessed research that could have helped families understand the health impacts of their exposure to toxic chemicals, but instead, have failed to even tell anyone that this study exists at all. Today, I sent a letter to the House Government Oversight Committee, asking it to open an investigation and hold hearings.”

Below is the letter from Congresswoman Shea-Porter to the House Committee on Government Oversight:

May 14, 2018

 

 

The Honorable Trey Gowdy
Chairman
House Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Elijah Cummings
Ranking Member
House Committee on Oversight and
Government Reform
2157 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 

Dear Chairman Gowdy and Ranking Member Cummings:

I respectfully request that the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, or an appropriate subcommittee thereof, conduct an oversight hearing on recent reports that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt may have inappropriately delayed the publication of an Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) report that highlighted the harmful effects of Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS).[i]

In 2016, the Environmental Protection Agency established a voluntary health advisory for PFOA and PFOS at 70 parts-per-trillion.[ii] Reporting suggests that Administrator Pruitt has used his position to block the new ATSDR study, which recommends a limit of less than 12 parts-per-trillion.[iii]

Reports of the EPA’s actions are startling. They include an email quoted as stating: “The impact to EPA and [the Defense Department] is going to be extremely painful. We (DoD and EPA) cannot seem to get ATSDR to realize the potential public relations nightmare this is going to be.”[iv] It is unconscionable that the political appointees at the head of the EPA are more concerned about their public image than they are about fulfilling their mission and protecting public health.

As you may know, Per- and poly fluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS (which includes both PFOA and PFOS), are chemical compounds used for industrial applications, as well as by the U.S. military in Aqueous Film Forming Foam (AFFF), a firefighting foam that contained perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS). Because of the broad scope of PFOA and PFOS use by entities including the US military, contaminated drinking water now poses a nationwide public health threat.

That lobbyists, industry insiders, and political appointees could have played a role in the decision not to release this study is beyond the pale. Congress must hold hearings and investigate how it is possible that the EPA, the White House, and HHS have, for months, possessed research that could have helped families understand the health impacts of their exposure to toxic chemicals, but instead, have failed to even tell anyone that this study exists at all. I again ask that you hold a hearing on the EPA’s decision to block the ATSDR study, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

 

Sincerely,

Carol Shea-Porter
Member of Congress