Biden-Harris Administration Announces $75 Million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding to Address Emerging Contaminants like PFAS in Drinking Water in Pennsylvania
PHILADELPHIA (Feb. 14, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today $75,086,000 from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will go to Pennsylvania to address emerging contaminants, like Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) in drinking water. A total investment of $2 billion is allocated to states and territories and will be made available to communities as grants through EPA’s Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities (EC-SDC) Grant Program. The funding will promote access to safe and clean water in small, rural, and disadvantaged communities while supporting local economies.
“Too many American communities, especially those that are small, rural, or underserved, are suffering from exposure to PFAS and other harmful contaminants in their drinking water,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to President Biden’s leadership, we are investing in America and providing billions of dollars to strengthen our nation’s water infrastructure while safeguarding people’s health and boosting local economies. These grants build on EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap and will help protect our smallest and most vulnerable communities from these persistent and dangerous chemicals.”
“We cannot wait any longer to address water quality and the health impacts of PFAS in our neighborhoods,” said Adam Ortiz, EPA Mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator. “This federal funding will help Pennsylvania communities impacted by PFAS to get access to clean, safe drinking water.”
“For years I have I urged multiple presidents’ administrations to get ‘forever chemicals’ like PFAS out of Pennsylvania drinking water and keep them out,” said U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA). “This major investment, made possible by the infrastructure law, is a strong start to clean up PFAS contamination in Pennsylvania’s waters. I’m going to keep working with the Biden Administration to build on this progress and we won’t stop until every Pennsylvanian has safe, clean water in their communities.”
“The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act will promote environmental justice and transform Pennsylvania for generations to come — and I’m thrilled that our region will receive infrastructure funding to specifically address contaminants, like PFAS, in our drinking water,” said U.S. Representative Madeleine Dean (D-PA 4th). “Pennsylvanians have a right to clean water, as guaranteed by our Constitution — yet our communities have suffered the harmful consequences of PFAS for decades. I’m grateful to the Biden-Harris Administration for directing investments to ensure the health and safety of our neighbors, and I will continue to work with officials, on every level, to protect Pennsylvanians from PFAS.”
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law invests $5 billion over five years to help communities that are on the frontlines of PFAS contamination reduce PFAS in drinking water. The $2 billion announced today to states and territories can be used to prioritize infrastructure and source water treatment for pollutants, like PFAS and other emerging contaminants, and to conduct water quality testing.
“Pennsylvania has been working to protect residents from PFAS contamination in drinking water and soil, and we welcome the resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that will help further these efforts for our communities,” said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Acting Secretary Rich Negrin. “This federal funding will help upgrade the public water systems in Pennsylvania to filter out these harmful chemicals and ensure clean drinking water across the Commonwealth. The Biden administration’s efforts will protect Pennsylvanians for generations to come.”
EPA is also releasing the Emerging Contaminants in Small or Disadvantaged Communities Grant Implementation document. The implementation document provides states and communities with the information necessary to use this funding to address local water quality and public health challenges. These grants will enable communities to improve local water infrastructure and reduce emerging contaminants in drinking water by implementing solutions such as installing necessary treatment solutions.
Today’s actions represent a significant milestone within the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitments to combat PFAS pollution and safeguard drinking water, and specifically EPA’s October 2021 PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Under the Roadmap, EPA is working across the agency to protect the public from the health impacts of PFAS. EPA has taken a number of actions to deliver progress on PFAS including:
- Proposing to designate two PFAS as CERCLA hazardous substances. If finalized, this will be a critical step toward increasing transparency around releases of PFAS and holding polluters accountable for cleaning up their contamination.
- Releasing drinking water health advisories. Acting in accordance with EPA’s mission to protect public health and keep communities and public health authorities informed when new science becomes available, the Agency issued drinking water health advisories for four PFAS.
- Laying the foundation to enhance data on PFAS. This included an order under EPA’s National PFAS Testing Strategy requiring companies to conduct PFAS testing, and nationwide sampling through the Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule for 29 PFAS in public drinking water systems .
- Expanding the scientific understanding of PFAS. The Agency issued more than 30 scientific publications by EPA researchers and released EPA’s PFAS Thermal Treatment Database.
- Translating the latest science into EPA’s cross-agency PFAS efforts. This included updating EPA’s contaminated site cleanup tables, developing new PFAS methods and conducting toxicity assessments, and issuing draft national recommended water quality criteria to protect aquatic life.
- Continuing engagement with the public. EPA’s PFAS work was informed by public webinars, stakeholder meetings, Congressional testimony, and engagement with EPA’s federal advisory committees.
In addition to this new grant, EPA is also working to propose a PFAS National Priority Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR) in the coming weeks. The draft proposed rule is currently undergoing interagency review and EPA will issue the proposed rule for public comment when it clears the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The agency anticipates finalizing the rule by the end of 2023. Together, with today’s announcement, these actions highlight EPA’s commitments outlined in the PFAS Strategic Roadmap to protect public health and the environment from the impacts of PFAS. They also illustrate the benefits of investing in water—protecting public health and the environment, addressing key challenges facing communities, and creating jobs.