Mark Ruffalo joins bipartisan lawmakers in introducing chemical regulation bill

Actor Mark Ruffalo joined two Michigan lawmakers on Tuesday to announce the introduction of legislation that would increase regulations on certain chemicals.

Reps. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellNurses union lobbies Congress on health care bills during National Nurses Week OSHA sends draft emergency temporary standard for COVID-19 to OMB review Why the US needs a successful federal green bank MORE (D) and Fred UptonFrederick (Fred) Stephen UptonCheney fight stokes cries of GOP double standard for women Overnight Energy: Michigan reps reintroduce measure for national 'forever chemicals' standard |  White House says gas tax won't be part of infrastructure bill Mark Ruffalo joins bipartisan lawmakers in introducing chemical regulation bill MORE (R) introduced the PFAS Action Act, a measure designed to protect consumers from perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances that can be found in water, food and fish.

Prolonged exposure to the chemical substances can lead to cancer and thyroid disruption, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

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“In this divided climate we’re in, water’s a good way for us to find common ground,” said Ruffalo, who produced and starred in the 2019 film “Dark Waters,” based on a true story, as a lawyer challenging a company that knowingly discharged the same chemicals into the air and water.

Ruffalo said he was astonished to learn that about 2,500 companies in 2020 were still releasing the substances into the environment, according to a report from the Environmental Working Group.

“Who’s going to pay if we don’t act? It’s us,” he said. “It’s the real people, people who live in frontline communities. Real people who are paying the price in the form of higher health care costs and water bills, and the kids are going to pay and they’re going to pay for the rest of their lives.”

The House passed a similar bill in January 2020 in a 247-159 vote, but the measure stalled in the Senate.

Dingell on Tuesday said PFAS have been an urgent, public health concern for a long time. She said Michiganders know the importance of having clean drinking water, an apparent reference to the multi-year contamination of the drinking water in Flint.

She said the previous bill passed with bipartisan support in the House and hopes it will move forward in a Democratic-controlled Senate and with the Biden administration vowing to address the issue. During the campaign, Biden promised to designate PFAS as hazardous and set enforceable limits on the substances.

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“Too many people don’t even know it’s a forever chemical that’s in all parts of things they touch every single day,” Dingell said.

Upton said the legislation would direct the EPA to work with the private sector to inform consumers and take steps to clean up PFAS-contaminated sites.

“Whether it’s dealing with our airports or military bases, communities, this is a bad substance, and people need to be warned about it,” he said Tuesday.

Upton said his colleagues in Congress are becoming more educated about this issue since the previous bill and are granting more recognition and attention to providing the adequate response to these chemicals.

“Hopefully we'll build upon that support and work with an administration that I'm convinced would accept this, if it gets to the president's desk,” he said.