Nessel criticizes 3M's legal bid to undo PFAS water rules

Leonard N. Fleming
The Detroit News

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel on Friday criticized a lawsuit filed by 3M Corp. against the state to challenge its strict drinking water standards related to PFAS chemicals.

The Minnesota-based company recently filed suit in Michigan Court of Claims against the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy and its drinking water standards adopted last year. 3M called them "the result of a rushed and invalid regulatory process, scientifically flawed, and reliant on speculative and unquantified purported benefits to justify the costly" rules.

The logo for 3M appears on a screen avove the New York Stock Exchange trading floor. 3M recently sued the state of Michigan to challenge its PFAS chemical drinking water rules.

Nessel said the suit is a way for 3M officials to go after the limits for PFAS compounds in drinking water. 3M officials in their suit contend the cleanup efforts will cost millions of dollars in the first year and would continue to climb.

Michigan's attorney general has sued 3M, along with other PFAS manufacturers, to recover clean up costs, damages to the environment and natural resource damages caused by PFAS contamination. State officials have contended that many of 3M’s products with PFAS ended up contaminating the environment that include land, drinking water and other natural resources.

"3M profited for years from its sale of PFAS products and concealed its evidence of adverse health impacts from state and federal regulators," Nessel said in a statement. "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. 

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are a collection of man-made "forever" chemicals used for decades in a various industries, making them persistent in the environment. Once in the body, they do not break down and been known to lead to serious health issues, even cancer.

"3M knows it is responsible to address contamination in Michigan and it has been unwilling to do so," the attorney general said. "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 3M lawsuit said PFAS is used for water and stain repellency, resistance to high temperatures and the reduction of surface tensions.

Under Gov Gretchen Whitmer, the state bolstered its drinking water rules last August which established standards for public water supplies, sampling requirements and public notification requirements.   

"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 Liesl Clark, the head of EGLE.  "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."

(313) 222-2620