Fact Squad: Ad touts Elissa Slotkin’s work fighting PFAS chemicals | Michigan Radio
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Fact Squad: Ad touts Elissa Slotkin’s work fighting PFAS chemicals

Feb 24, 2020

A new television commercial praises U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Holly for fighting Michigan PFAS contamination in Washington, D.C.

The first-term Democrat is one of eight members of Congress highlighted in a new $1-million ad campaign by the League of Conservation Voters and House Majority Forward, a nonprofit with ties to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that is not required to disclose donors.

Read more: Welcome to The 8th Congressional District

The issue ad does not direct viewers to vote for Slotkin, who is up for re-election this fall in the 8th Congressional swing district, but instead urges them to “thank” her and “tell her to continue fighting to keep our water safe.”

The claims

The 30-second commercial features a local news headline saying Michigan “has the most PFAS contaminated sites in America” and argues that for too long, Washington did nothing about it.

But Slokin did, according to the ad, which claims she “made cleaning up these dangerous chemicals” a top priority.

The commercial touts her work with Republican and Democrats to pass the bipartisan PFAS Action Act, which was approved by the House in January.

The facts

Slotkin was one of 66 co-sponsors on the PFAS Action Act, which was introduced by fellow Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell of Dearborn and would classify PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances to ensure they qualify for the federal Superfund cleanup program.

Slotkin spoke in support of the bill on the House floor and secured an amendment requiring federal regulators to identify PFAS-free alternatives to firefighting foams linked to several contaminated sites.

The legislation appears permanently stalled in the Republican-led Senate, however, and is unlikely to become law. In fact, President Donald Trump’s administration issued a veto threat three days before the vote in the Democratic-led House.

The ad notes that Michigan has the most PFAS contaminated sites in the United States.

But it neglects to mention a crucial caveat: A study by the Environmental Working Group that made that declaration made clear that is only because Michigan has a more aggressive testing program than other states.

In other words, Michigan has found more contaminated sites than anyone else because it’s been looking harder than anyone else.

The Michigan count “reinforces the fact that PFAS chemicals are everywhere – when you look for them, you find them,” researchers said.

The conclusion

There’s no doubt Slotkin has made fighting PFAS contamination a “top priority,” as the ad states.

Besides the legislation, she’s urged the Pentagon to move faster on cleanups of Air Force bases and hosted town halls on the pollutants.

And while it’s true Slotkin “worked with Republicans and Democrats” to pass PFAS reforms, viewers of the ad could be mistaken into thinking they became law — which they didn’t.

This story was originally published in Bridge Magazine.