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Michigan Attorney General, EGLE call out 3M attempt to gut PFAS in drinking water rules

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) Director Liesl Clark today blasted an attempt by Minnesota-based 3M Corporation to invalidate PFAS in drinking water standards adopted by Michigan last year. 

3M earlier this week served a lawsuit on EGLE seeking to invalidate Michigan's standards that set limits for PFAS compounds in drinking water. As one of the major manufacturers of PFAS in the country, 3M profited from the sale of many products containing PFAS while hiding the chemical's human health effects from the public.  Many of 3M's products ended up in the environment and continue to contaminate Michigan's land, drinking water, and other natural resources. Attorney General Nessel has sued 3M, along with other PFAS manufacturers, on behalf of the State of Michigan to recover clean up costs, damages to the environment and natural resource damages caused by PFAS contamination.  

This latest legal maneuver aimed at stripping away protections put in place by Michigan after years of health research, scientific analysis, and stakeholder and public input is unconscionable, according to Nessel.  

"3M profited for years from its sale of PFAS products and concealed its evidence of adverse health impacts from state and federal regulators," said Attorney General Nessel. "It is no coincidence that this out-of-state company is resorting to attempts to rewrite our state's standards put in place to protect Michiganders from PFAS in their drinking water. 3M knows it is responsible to address contamination in Michigan and it has been unwilling to do so. Now, it wants to change the rules so that it can continue to shirk its responsibility to Michigan residents and to the health of the water resources that define our state."  

The lawsuit filed by 3M in the Michigan Court of Claims attacks the drinking water standards that were adopted by the state in August 2020. The rules establish standards for public water supplies, sampling requirements, public notification requirements and laboratory certification criteria.   

In 2019, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer directed EGLE and the multi-agency state taskforce, the Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (MPART), to review the scientific and health data available on PFAS compounds and move forward with state drinking water standards.  These draft rules were then scrutinized by the state Environmental Rules Review Committee before being submitted to the Michigan Office of Administrative Hearings and Rules (MOAHR), and then on to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. The rules were adopted without objection by this joint committee in August of 2020. 

"Michigan's rules providing for limits on PFAS in drinking water are a critical part of our State's work to protect our residents from exposure to these contaminants," said EGLE Director Liesl Clark. "We take the job of protecting the public health seriously, and these rules are the product of rigorous scientific analysis, stakeholder input, public comment, and legislative review. We are confident in the process and the science that supports these important health protections for Michiganders' drinking water."

"My office is supporting EGLE 100 percent," said Nessel. "We will work to get 3M's irresponsible attack on Michigan's drinking water rules thrown out of court. We will not tolerate these poisons in our environment and our drinking water, and we will not tolerate a corporation like 3M putting its dollars ahead of our health and our water."