Weekly Democratic Address
January 10, 2020
Hello, I’m Congresswoman Debbie Dingell from the 12th District of Michigan.
This week, we pray for the men and women in our armed forces, as well as their families. They are all our sons and daughters.
The Administration must work with Congress to put forward a coherent, robust strategy to de-escalate tensions in the Middle East. Diplomacy, not military action, must come first.
I will do everything possible working with my colleagues to accomplish this, to prevent war and protect our national security. We must be diligent and united.
The House also took action this week to address a problem that is a threat to all Americans: PFAS contamination and its effects to human health and the environment.
People are being poisoned by these chemicals every single day and it’s our job to protect them.
This is an urgent public health and environmental threat. The number of contamination sites nationwide is growing at an alarming rate, including our military bases.
These chemicals are known as ‘forever chemicals’ – and they are everywhere – they’re in our non-stick cookware, food containers, carpets, clothing, cosmetics and firefighting foams, just to name a few. They do not break down in the environment, in the human body or wildlife. PFAS builds up in your blood and it’s estimated to be in the blood of 97 percent of Americans, most don’t even know it.
Exposure to these forever chemicals – even at low levels – poses significant health risks, including cancer, liver damage, decreased fertility and increased risk of asthma and thyroid disease.
Michigan has been hit hard. We have identified 74 sites, but only because we are testing for it. Michigan learned from the Flint water crisis.
According to the Environmental Working Group, forever chemicals have been detected in more than 1,400 communities, across 49 states, including near 400 military installations. Those drinking water systems serve around 19 million people.
In my district, the entire Huron River is flowing with PFAS contamination. At a recent townhall, a man stood up and said, “I eat the fish. I live on it. When will the fish be safe again?” – I fear not in his lifetime.
Here is the reality. We are not cleaning up this contamination and the polluters are not being held responsible. We don’t even have a protective drinking water standard. All Trump’s EPA has is a health advisory guideline. Even former Republican Michigan Governor Snyder’s appointed scientific PFAS Task Force said the guideline probably isn’t strong enough.
This week, the House passed a comprehensive, bipartisan legislative package to address this growing crisis in the United States.
The Dingell PFAS Action Act properly designates these forever chemicals as hazardous substances to accelerate the cleanup process at military facilities and in communities all across this country.
The bill also includes provisions from many of my colleagues that establish a national protection standard for most notorious chemicals in drinking water and requires proper labeling in household products.
It is a beginning. It is now on Senate Majority Leader McConnell and President Trump to act.
We also must address the Trump Administration’s significant rollbacks of the National Environmental Policy Act this week.
For fifty years, NEPA – which was signed by President Nixon – has been the bedrock of conservation law and preserved the environment, human health and the people’s voice in policy decisions.
The proposal to roll back NEPA is one more action by this Administration to ignore scientific-based environmental standards that protect our water, air and lands.
This is a serious assault that will result in significant costs to American taxpayers because President Trump refuses to accept the effects and the challenges of climate change.
This decision is going to lead to more species becoming endangered. Now is the time to exercise serious oversight that ensures the Administration abides by the law and ensures that all communities have a voice in decisions that impact them.
House Democrats are delivering For the People on serious, meaningful steps to protect human health and the environment.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell and President Trump: will you join the House in listening and fighting for the health and safety of all Americans?