Rep. Terri Cortvriend and Rep. June S. Speakman plan to introduce legislation in the upcoming legislative session to push the state to take action to protect drinking water from known toxins.
The Safe Drinking Water Act, which the two lawmakers also introduced last year (2019-H 6064), will be introduced in partnership with the Conservation Law Foundation, Future Now and the Natural Resources Defense Council. The bill — being introduced in state legislatures around the country — provides for state-level standards for drinking water to limit known toxics and protect residents from harm.
The federal Environmental Protection Agency has resisted calls by public health groups and environmentalists to regulate man made contaminants, including PFOA, PFOS and related compounds linked to cancer, Chromium-6 (the Erin Brockovich chemical) and 1,4 dioxane, which can be found in the drinking water of millions of people. The Safe Drinking Water Act allows the state to step up and take action, setting standards for drinking water to protect residents from known toxins.
“Rhode Island doesn’t have to sit idle while the federal government looks the other way from the pollution that is harming public health. In fact, it’s our duty to take the action necessary to protect our drinking water. Safe drinking water is a necessity and a human right, and Rhode Islanders deserve to have that right protected. We look forward to addressing this issue in the 2020 legislative session,” Cortvriend, D-Portsmouth, said in a statement.
Although the legislators are still working with advocates to establish the details in Rhode Island’s legislation, it is expected to:
● Establish state-wide maximum contaminant levels for PFOS, PFOA, other PFAS compounds, chromium-6 and 1,4 dioxane in public drinking water systems;
● Direct the state to consider limits on other pollutants in drinking water systems when two or more other states have set limits or issued guidance on a given pollutant;
● Provide for review of the best available scientific evidence in setting maximum contaminant limits;
● Ensure contaminant limits sufficient to protect vulnerable people, including pregnant and nursing mothers, infants, and children.
States including California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Vermont have already taken state-level action and are leading the way in protecting their residents from these dangerous chemicals.
PFAs — per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances — are man made chemicals linked to cancer, developmental delays and other health problems. They are commonly used in nonstick and stain-repellent coatings, as well as firefighting foam and thousands of other applications.
The federal EPA has agreed only to a “recommendation” that that drinking water not contain more than 70 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFOA and PFOS, two of the more extensively studied chemicals in the PFA group.
The 2019 version of the bill would have required the Department of Health to establish maximum contaminate levels of PFAs in public drinking water supplies and set an interim standard of 20 ppt, which is the level recently adopted in Vermont.
The bill is also supported by the Conservation Law Foundation, which earlier this year petitioned the Department of Health to impose a 20 ppt limit on public water supplies. The department denied the request, saying it needs more research and EPA regulations.
Link to article: December 21, 2019: Representative Cortvriend plans to introduce legislation to protect drinking water from known toxins.