A new report from the national advocacy organization Food & Water Watch details more than $110 million spent on lobbying by the chemical industry from 2019-2022 on scores of bills introduced in Congress, including many to address the crisis of PFAS contamination throughout the country. As public awareness of the dangers of PFAS to human health grew over the last decade, so too did the corporate lobbying intended to derail action by Congress to hold the polluting industry accountable for cleanup and mitigation efforts.
Toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are commonly known as “forever chemicals” because they do not readily break down in the environment. Today PFAS are found virtually everywhere – including in the blood of nearly all Americans – and analyses estimate the cost of proper cleanup in the country to be billions of dollars.
Specifically, the report, “PFAS and the Chemistry of Concealment,” found major PFAS companies and associated trade groups employed an army of lobbyists and spent more than $110 million lobbying since 2019:
- From 2019 to 2022, PFAS-related bills and issues appeared in lobbying reports from eight major PFAS manufacturers, including historic manufacturers Dow and DuPont. These reports collectively total $55.7 million in corporate lobbying expenditures.
- During the same period, PFAS also appeared in lobbying reports from the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the lobbying arm of the industry, totalling an additional $58.7 million.
- Over this time, Congress introduced more than 130 bills related to PFAS cleanup and mitigation. Of these, only four became law (along with four National Defense Authorization Act bills that mention PFAS); none of those addressed the underlying responsibility of the industry to fund cleanup efforts.
- A top target of the industry was the PFAS Action Act (of 2019 and 2021), a comprehensive bill that would have designated two major PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund program. The eight PFAS manufacturers paid a total of 28 lobbyists to fight the 2019 version of the bill. Eventually the bill passed the House but was killed by the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Two-thirds of current committee members accepted campaign contributions from PFAS manufacturers, and more than half accepted contributions from the ACC.
“Chemical corporations lied to the public for years about the alarming health impacts of PFAS. Now that the truth about the many harms of PFAS has been exposed, the industry is trying to dodge liability by wielding its vast lobbying arsenal. Meanwhile, communities from coast to coast are left footing the enormous bill for PFAS contamination in their drinking water, on their farmland and in their bodies,” said Amanda Starbuck, research director at Food & Water Watch. “We will keep eating, drinking and breathing toxic chemicals until the federal government steps up to stop PFAS manufacturing and hold polluters accountable for cleanup.”