Community Advocates Seek to Defend EPA’s PFAS Drinking Water Standards in Court

Chemical Companies and Water Providers are challenging the EPA’s right to protect the public from PFAS in their drinking water


On Friday, community advocates from across the country requested to intervene in litigation pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals to defend the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new rule limiting toxic PFAS in drinking water.

Eight community groups representing communities affected by severe PFAS contamination seek to uphold the EPA’s standards for six toxic chemicals in public drinking water: PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, PFBS, PFHxS, and GenX. The community groups’ members are relying on the rule to ensure their water systems keep PFAS levels below the EPA limits, conduct ongoing testing, and promptly notify their customers if PFAS levels in their water exceed the standards that the EPA has determined are feasible and necessary to protect public health.

“If upheld by the court, the EPA’s rule limiting PFAS in drinking water will save thousands of lives and vindicate years of unrelenting advocacy by community leaders on the frontlines of the PFAS contamination crisis,” said Earthjustice Attorney Katherine O’Brien. “We will fight to ensure that the hard-won protections in EPA’s rule are not lost and that the communities whose health and lives are at stake have a voice in court.”

PFAS, a class of over 12,000 toxic chemicals, persist in the environment and accumulate in the human body, causing severe health effects, including cancer and immune system suppression. An estimated 200 million people in the U.S. have PFAS-contaminated drinking water. In 2022, the EPA issued advisories highlighting the serious risks of any detectable levels of PFOA or PFOS, particularly for young children.

Quotes from our clients:

“My community has suffered enough,” said Clean Cape Fear Co-Founder Emily Donovan. “We were lied to for decades about PFAS, these forever chemicals don’t belong in our tap water. We need these enforceable PFAS limits to protect our health and the health of our loved ones. We also need the EPA to stop all PFAS exposures and regulate PFAS as a class.”

“We came to Pittsboro hoping for a safe, vibrant community to raise our family, only to discover the water we trusted was tainted with toxic chemicals,” said Clean Haw River Co-Founder Jessica Merricks. “This unjust reality sparked a journey of advocacy and community action. Upholding the EPA rule is crucial for ensuring our drinking water is safe, protecting our community’s health and future.”

“Having seen the devastating impact of PFAS contamination in my hometown of Warminster, PA,” said Joanne Stanton, Co-Founder of the Buxmont Coalition for Safe Water. “I co-founded the Coalition in 2015 after my son’s cancer diagnosis, which was linked to our water. This fight is about ensuring safe, clean drinking water for all residents, free from harmful chemicals.”

“My husband and I thought our children were safe, but in 2016, we discovered our water was contaminated with toxic PFAS,” said Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water Co-Founder Laurene Allen. “This revelation shattered our trust and compelled us to fight for clean, safe water. The EPA’s Final Rule gives us hope for the protections we need. We urge the court to uphold these regulations.”

“After years of fighting for safer drinking water, the EPA’s PFAS rule is a beacon of hope,” said Founding Member of the Environmental Justice Task Force Linda Shosie. “It promises enforceable standards to protect our community from toxic chemicals. Upholding the rule is critical for justice and health for all.”

“After being diagnosed with cancer alongside multiple family members, I learned the harsh reality of environmental dangers,” said Executive Director of Fight for Zero Christel Bailey. “Our fight for clean water and justice continues daily, fueled by hope for a safer future. The recent federal PFAS rule renews my faith in this fight.”

“The fear when my family tested positive for high PFAS levels was overwhelming,” said Steering Committee Member of Newburgh Clean Water Project Jennifer Rawlison. “Joining the Newburgh Clean Water Project turned that fear into action. Our mission is personal — it’s about protecting our health. We must continue fighting for stronger regulations to ensure safe drinking water for everyone in Newburgh.”

A child fills a drinking glass with water from the faucet.
Almost everyone in the U.S. has traces of PFAS in their body because the chemicals have contaminated the air, soil, and water — including the drinking water for approximately 200 million people nationwide. (Cavan Images)

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