Friday, May 31, 2024

Governor Cooper Proclaims June 3rd - 7th PFAS Awareness Week in North Carolina North Carolina leads effort to understand and protect against PFAS pollution while special interests lobby to block clean drinking water rules

May 31, 2024

Today, Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed PFAS Awareness Week in North Carolina to raise awareness of Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) found in drinking water. North Carolina has been a leader in PFAS regulation, working to hold polluters accountable and creating an Action Strategy to clean contamination, protect drinking water, and enact rules limiting the amount of PFAS that companies can discharge. Absent this rulemaking, the entire burden of complying with new drinking water standards will fall to every day people who would pay higher water bills.

"North Carolinians deserve clean water and we must be at the forefront of the fight to contain forever chemicals," said Governor Cooper. "We are holding polluters accountable, researching solutions, and working hard to protect people’s health."

In April, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the first-ever national limit on PFAS in drinking water. Based on all available data, more than 300 water systems in our state have PFAS levels that will exceed the new standards. That includes 42 municipal water systems serving nearly 3 million residents combined, as well as approximately 20% of small public water systems tested. This comes as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided funding for communities impacted by PFAS and other contaminants. The Governor’s 2024 Budget Proposal also includes a $100 million fund to help communities clean their water form pollutants such as PFAS.

The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) requested the Environmental Management Commission (EMC) begin rulemaking on PFAS groundwater and surface water standards, which would limit the amount of PFAS that companies can discharge. The EMC is the commission charged with adopting rules for “protection, preservation, and enhancement of the water and air resources of the State.”

Reducing discharges of PFAS into North Carolina’s state water supplies is the most cost-effective way to meet the new drinking water standards.

Despite these calls to begin regulating PFAS, the EMC has stalled efforts amid lobbying by the NC Chamber of Commerce, whose members include chemical companies. Republican legislators seized control of the EMC in 2023 through legislation it passed over the Governor’s veto that continues to be litigated in the courts. The EMC’s move to delay anti-pollution rules intended to protect drinking water from PFAS contamination mirrored lobbying from the NC Chamber on behalf of its members. Recent reporting shows that members of the EMC own stock in companies that belong to the Chamber and lobbied to oppose PFAS regulation.

Read the proclamation.


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