The Biden administration is guided by alarmist environmentalism in its rulemaking. From net-zero decarbonization policies to incorporating environmental, social, and governance principles into daily life, the White House leans on detrimental policies at its own peril.
Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency is regulating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or forever chemicals, from existence. But this campaign is far from practical given this administration’s limited understanding of PFAS chemicals.
The EPA recently published a rule to designate perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid as Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act hazardous substances. The White House claims it’ll hold polluters accountable and reduce “inequities” from pollution. This designation, if applied, purportedly reduces associated exposure from Superfund sites, areas identified by the EPA as containing hazardous materials.
Critics contend this will unfairly place liability on local communities to clean up Superfund sites even if they aren’t responsible for waste. Groups such as the National Association of Clean Water Agencies worry the rule would categorize member clean water agencies as “potentially responsible parties for PFAS contamination” for wastewater, stormwater, and biosolids management activities.
Unsurprisingly, low-income and disadvantaged people would be financially worse off under these new guidelines. One state metric finds cleanup of non-designated waste costs $5.72 per ton compared to the hazardous waste rate of $310.10 per ton. That’s not practical. Worse, this proposal would severely undercut the progress made on Superfund cleanups by the Trump administration.
Environmentalist campaigns aimed at phasing out PFAS substances found in everyday products would make daily life impossible. They ignore reality when they downplay the potential adverse downstream effects this would have on consumers.
Americans have relied on these products since the 1940s, given their resistance to grease, water, oil, and heat. Per the Food and Drug Administration, PFAS are contained in “stain- and water-resistant fabrics and carpeting, cleaning products, paints, and fire-fighting foams,” and have “limited use in cookware, food packaging, and food processing equipment.” These substances are also found in makeup. While the EPA has raised caution about these ingredients, it also concedes that certain risks are too difficult to study. The Biden administration would be prudent to consult available government data before making hasty decisions.
PFAS alarmism has similarly invaded decisions pertaining to wildlife conservation and whether or not to halt fishing and hunting as management tools. The Associated Press published a report warning about chemical traces in deer and trout that prompted some state wildlife agencies, namely in Maine and Michigan, to enact “do not eat” advisories.
But is this fear warranted? Due to insufficient available data to support these measures, anglers and hunters shouldn’t hang up their rods and firearms this season. Some wildlife agencies have already implemented PFAS testing regimes to examine deer muscle and liver samples. A 2019 study by New Hampshire Fish and Game concluded, “No PFAS chemicals were detected in any of the muscle tissue samples tested, suggesting venison consumption likely represents a low risk for PFAS exposure.”
That same study only cautioned against Granite State hunters consuming deer liver since it’s a filtering organ that retains these contaminants. Otherwise, conservationists already exercise caution in the field and already know the risks associated with consuming wild game.
The United States has successfully balanced environmental standards with economic progress. The problem for preservationists is this: The environment will never return to pre-industrial levels. Nor should it.
Americans are well-equipped to assess risks associated with minuscule PFAS traces found in nature, household items, and wild game meat. By using the best available science, the federal government shouldn’t implement misguided policies to assuage special interest groups.