Executive Directive creates Michigan PFAS Action Response Team

Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) have been classified by the US Environmental Protection Agency as an emerging contaminant on the national level. PFAS are a suite of chemicals historically used in thousands of applications throughout the industrial, food, and textile industries.  They are incredibly stable, breaking down very slowly in the environment, and are highly soluble, easily transferring through soil to groundwater. PFAS has been identified in several locations across the state of Michigan, as a result of applications across multiple industries with multiple applications used around the State. PFAS is used in firefighting foams, food packaging, cleaning products, and various other products. It is also used by many industries such as plating, tanneries, or clothing manufacture, where waterproofing may be required or a protective film is needed in a manufacturing process.

The development and maintenance of cooperative relationships among local, state, and federal agencies is necessary for the mitigation of PFAS contamination. This directive is intended to address the need for cooperation and coordination among agencies at all levels of government charged with identifying PFAS contaminants, informing and empowering the public, and mitigating the potential effects. Particularly in view of the current lack of nationwide best practice, the directive will further serve to set a strategic and proactive approach against this emerging contaminant.

Section 1 of Article V of the Michigan Constitution of 1963 vests the executive power in the Governor.  Section 8 of Article V of the Michigan Constitution places each principal department under the supervision of the Governor, unless otherwise specified in the Constitution.  Pursuant to these provisions of the Michigan Constitution, I direct the following:

The Director of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Director of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), the Director of the Department of Military and Veteran Affairs (DMVA), and the Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) are directed to immediately establish a Michigan PFAS Action Response Team (Team). The Director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Director of the Michigan State Police (MSP), the State Treasurer, the Director of the Department of Technology, Management, and Budget (DTMB), and the Director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) are instructed to coordinate and cooperate with the Team as requested.

The Team shall reach out to the National Guard Bureau, the Department of Defense, the appropriate Local Health Departments (LHD), local public officials, and other relative entities for information and cooperation on PFAS contaminant issues.

The Team will be staffed by employees of the Executive Office of the Governor and each affected department. Any budgeting, procurement, and related management functions of the Team shall be performed under the direction of and supervision of the Department Directors, as coordinated by the Governor’s Cabinet Director and Cabinet Office.

The Team shall direct the implementation of the state’s action strategy which includes, but is not limited to: research, identify, and establish PFAS response actions relative to the discovery, communication, and mitigation of PFAS. To the extent practicable, the Team shall do each of the following:

  • Identify impacted locations and create and implement an action plan designed to assist state and local authorities in ensuring safe drinking water.

  • Initiate environmental response protocols for all positively identified sites, specialized site plans are developed, and appropriate stakeholders are engaged in the response.

  • Initiate public health protocols to ensure that all public health and medical stakeholder groups are informed and integrated to ascertain health implications.

  • Perform state and local public outreach in order to ensure that residents in the impacted areas, including all members of the community, local government, corporate and non-profit partners, and impacted stakeholders are informed, educated, and empowered.

  • Conduct both long-term mitigation planning, ensure resource requirements are identified and supported, and site contaminants are removed (where applicable).

  • Establish a standard process for sharing pertinent information between all members.

  • Establish routine communication protocols at the local, executive, and legislative levels as appropriate.

  • Establish strong information sharing and communications processes with other state and federal entities involved in PFAS response activities.
  • Collaboratively develop standards on health impacts for the affected population. 

  • Assess the status of any PFAS contaminated site and develop individualized response strategies.

  • The Team may establish subcommittees among its members.

  • The Team shall provide other information or advice as requested by the Governor.

The Team may, as appropriate to perform its duties, make inquiries, conduct studies, consult with federal agencies, and receive comments from the public. The Team may consult with and retain outside experts to assist it with its obligations under this Directive.

Members of the Team shall serve without compensation but may receive reimbursement for necessary travel and expenses according to relevant statues and the rules and procedures of the Civil Service Commission, DTMB, subject to available funding.

The Team may accept donations of labor, services, or other items of value from any public or private agency or person. Any donations shall be expended in accordance with applicable laws, rules, and procedures.

Members of the Team shall refer all legal, legislative, and media contacts to the Executive Office.