Committee supports bill to invest in PFAS clean-up for farms

Thu, 03/17/2022 - 2:30pm

AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee voted Thursday in favor of LD 2013, “An Act Relating to Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Contamination in the State.”

An amended version of the bill, which would create a PFAS advisory committee and make a $100 million investment in PFAS testing and remediation, received a unanimous vote of approval.

As amended, LD 2013 would establish the Fund To Address PFAS Contamination within the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry and the corresponding Advisory Committee on the Fund To Address PFAS Contamination to make recommendations to the department regarding the administration of the fund.

“There are farmers in Waldo County and across Maine who have shut down because of PFAS contamination,” said Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast. “These are farmers who have put everything they have into their farms for years, sometimes generations. Farms that might have been spread with municipal and industrial sludge thirty years ago are testing extremely high today.”

The bill authorizes DACF to allocate funds upon recommendation of the advisory committee and for certain purposes, including but not limited to monitoring the health of people in a household whose agricultural land is found to be contaminated by PFAS; conducting research; assisting an agricultural enterprise with land found to be contaminated by PFAS; funding for educational programs; and long-term monitoring of contaminated sites and establishing a corresponding centralized data repository.

The bill also would provide one-time funding of $100 million to address PFAS contamination on agricultural land in Maine.

“Without timely testing and research on alternative crops, these farmers are stuck waiting on the science and our testing capacity to catch up to their needs,” said Sen. Curry. “No one should be afraid of testing their land and water because the results could devastate their livelihood. We need to invest resources to help Maine farmers; these are hard-working families who deserve support from the State.”

LD 2013 now faces votes in the Senate and House.