MEC & WMEAC call out DEQ’s attempt to repeal its rulemaking authority
After issuing standards on PFAS, agency aims to surrender its ability to issue similar protections in the future
On Tuesday, Jan. 9, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) issued new limits on allowable levels of PFAS — a class of manufactured chemicals — in drinking water and set standards for the clean up of contaminated sites. However, in a separate action, the DEQ attempts to surrender its authority to issue similar environmental protections in the future.
While Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) and West Michigan Environmental Action Council (WMEAC) applaud the new scientifically backed standard on PFAS, they urge the DEQ to drop its proposal to repeal the rule allowing them to set similar standards that protect public health.
“By issuing a strong PFAS rule, the DEQ has demonstrated the importance of scientifically backed drinking water regulations, but in a separate action is seeking to remove their authority to take similar action in the future,” said James Clift, policy director at MEC. “As new research emerges on the full impacts of PFAS on our environment and public health, the state’s hands will be tied. New standards will have to go through a lengthy rulemaking process that could take more than a year.”
“The DEQ should lead on this and maintain their ability to issue and improve environmental protections based on new science,” said Bill Wood, executive director of WMEAC. “At a time when we’re just beginning to understand the breadth of the PFAS contamination in Plainfield Township where a recent test found nearly 500,000 ppt in a 20-month-old child's bloodstream, the DEQ is attempting to give up their authority to protect the residents of Michigan.”
PFAS are not a single contaminant, but dozens of types of industrial pollutants. The EPA calls them “emerging contaminants,” as the full impact of PFAS are unknown at this time. "If the DEQ found that one of the chemicals within this class of chemicals is even more dangerous, they're giving up their authority to set a new standard," Clift added.
The proposed rule rescinding DEQ’s authority to issue environmental standards is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, January 18. The proposed rule language can be viewed here: http://dmbinternet.state.mi.us/DMB/ORRDocs/RIS/1604_2015-094EQ_ris.pdf