Administrator Wheeler Discusses PFAS, Engages with Agriculture Stakeholders, Tours Brownfields Redevelopment in North Carolina
Durham, N.C. (August 25, 2020) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler continued his swing through the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast region with stops in Fayetteville, Fuquay Varina, and Dunn, N.C. where he highlighted EPA’s work to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the State of North Carolina to strengthen the agriculture community, and promoted redevelopment work for Brownfields sites.
“Our efforts to help North Carolina redevelop its Brownfields, strengthen its agricultural practices, and take action to address PFAS usage is all part of EPA’s promise to help all Americans, regardless of what zip code they live in, have a better future,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “We’re proud of our relationship with the State of North Carolina and look forward to working even more with the State in the future.”
“Today, we participated in Rep. Richard Hudson’s PFAS meeting with state and county officials – an issue that remains a priority for EPA; signed a historic MOU agreement with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services; and highlighted the incredible work performed by the city of Dunn,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “Through efforts like these, EPA continues to strengthen relationships with our partners and improve the environment in communities throughout the state of North Carolina.”
At a roundtable hosted by U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-08) in Fayetteville, N.C., Administrator Wheeler touted the Trump Administration’s commitment to aggressively address PFAS. EPA has made significant progress implementing the PFAS Action Plan — the most comprehensive cross-agency plan ever to address an emerging chemical of concern.
Currently, EPA is conducting in-house research, including testing to understand toxicity within the larger universe of hundreds of PFAS products; developing and validating analytical methods for detecting and measuring PFAS in air, water and solid media; understanding fate, transport and exposure to PFAS via different pathways; and documenting and testing approaches for stabilizing, removing, or destroying PFAS in contaminated materials. In May 2020, EPA expanded its research efforts and capabilities by launching its PFAS Innovative Treatment Team (PITT).
Attendees at the roundtable included Congressman Hudson, State Representative John Szoka (NC-45), Cumberland County Commission Chair Marshall Faircloth, Cumberland County Commissioner Mike Boose, Cumberland County Commissioner Jimmy Keefe, and Deputy Cumberland County manager Duane Holder.
“Protecting our community and combatting PFAS chemicals like GenX have remained a top priority. I first invited the EPA to Fayetteville in 2018 so they could hear directly from our community on this issue. Today’s discussion continues that dialogue and builds on our progress, including two amendments I recently secured that will directly help our fight against PFAS. I thank Administrator Wheeler for coming to our community and applaud the EPA’s new Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge which will further our efforts,” said U.S. Congressman Richard Hudson (NC-08).
At the roundtable, Administrator Wheeler launched an innovation challenge to identify solutions to destroy PFAS. The Innovative Ways to Destroy PFAS Challenge is a partnership between federal and states agencies seeking detailed plans for non-thermal technologies to destroy PFAS in concentrated aqueous film forming foam (AFFF), a type of firefighting foam.
Following the roundtable, Administrator Wheeler visited Jay Adcock Farm in Fuquay Varina, N.C. where EPA Region 4 Administrator Walker signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Services (Department) Commissioner Steve Troxler. The MOU reaffirms EPA’s commitment to work as closely as possible with the Department to promote and improve agriculture, protect consumers, and conserve farmland and natural resources for all North Carolinians.
“This agreement strengthens the already strong partnership between EPA Region 4 and the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services,” said EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary S. Walker. “This historic MOU demonstrates our commitment to working together to improve the environment which is a priority for both of our agencies.”
“Solid relationships and open communication with our federal partners are important and I am excited to sign a MOU with EPA Region 4 cementing our continued collaboration,” said North Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture Steve Troxler.
At the signing, Administrator Wheeler and Regional Administrator Walker were also joined by U.S. Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07), State Senator Brent Jackson (NC-10), State Representative Jimmy Dixon (NC-04), and farm owner Jay Adock.
“Government should work for you — not against you. This agreement lays the foundation for a working partnership making our federal agencies more responsive and better coordinated with our state and local governments,” said U.S. Congressman David Rouzer (NC-07). “This is one more example of President Trump and his administration putting commonsense and the needs of the American people first by working with stakeholders and the citizens at large rather than dictating.”
Under the leadership of President Trump, EPA recognizes that U.S. farmers and ranchers have the ability to be some of the agency’s strongest allies in fulfilling its mission to protect human health and the environment. EPA listened to rural America’s concerns with regulations and finalized the Navigable Waters Protection Rule, which restored the role of private landowners in land management and improving water quality, taking away unnecessary burdens of time and money.
Administrator Wheeler concluded his day with a stop in Dunn, N.C. to see Brownfields redevelopment work firsthand. Dunn has received two grants since 2014 totaling $700,000 and EPA has conducted environmental work on 15 properties. Dunn has worked closely with property owners in its Fayetteville Avenue corridor to assist with redevelopment options and navigate North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality’s state brownfields program.
One dollar of EPA’s Brownfields funding leverages $17 in other public and private funding. Under the Trump Administration, EPA is committed to focusing resources on revitalizing and redeveloping communities like Dunn.
Under President Trump, EPA has delivered approximately $287 million in Brownfields grants directly to communities and non-profits in need. In FY 2020, 151 communities were selected to receive 155 grants totaling $65.6 million in EPA Brownfields funding through our Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants. Of the selected communities, 118 can potentially assess or clean up brownfield sites in census tracts designated as federal Opportunity Zones.