PFAS & Emerging Contaminants Policy, Remediation Division, Bureau of Water Protection & Land Reuse, DEEP
As the inaugural CASE Science and Technology Fellow, I have spent the past two years working for the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) as part of the agency’s small core team focused on PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances). Six weeks into my fellowship, a release of PFAS-containing foam into the Farmington River garnered public outcry throughout the state and thrust this class of emerging contaminants into the spotlight. Soon after, Governor Ned Lamont established an interagency task force charged with advising his administration on a comprehensive strategy to address PFAS in CT. Over the next five months, I helped DEEP and the CT Department of Public Health (DPH) convene this task force and took on a leading role in organizing, writing, and editing the CT PFAS Action Plan, which lays out a series of initiatives that DEEP and its sister agencies have since been working to implement. The opportunity to help shape this foundational document was undoubtedly one of the highlights of my fellowship experience.
As a CASE Fellow, I have participated in outreach to audiences ranging from researchers to concerned citizens and municipal officials and have served as a point person for a wide range of executive branch colleagues in need of PFAS expertise. For instance, I have provided technical edits for the Office of the Attorney General on multistate letters to federal Congressional leadership on actions to support PFAS action at the state level and to the EPA on proposals to monitor and regulate the levels of certain PFAS in drinking water. I also provided technical assistance to a multistate coalition that recently published model legislation to support state-level efforts to ban PFAS in packaging materials. During the abbreviated 2020 legislative session, I wrote briefings for DEEP leadership on legislative hearings related to PFAS and testimony for the DEEP Commissioner on a PFAS-related bill. During the ongoing 2021 session, I have been able to play a more active role in the legislative process. In addition to advising DEEP leadership on testimony for PFAS-related bills, I met with the chair of the CT legislature’s Environment Committee and provided advice and multiple rounds of edits on legislative language. These efforts culminated in a bill banning the sale of PFAS-containing food packaging and the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam, which was recently passed by the Senate and is currently being considered by the House. Helping to guide this bill from inception to the floor of the General Assembly has been another major CASE Fellowship highlight.
My experience as a CASE Fellow has confirmed my desire to pursue a career in environmental policy. I have been honored to work with and learn from skilled and passionate colleagues dedicated to safeguarding human health and the environment in CT. Participating in cross-government efforts on PFAS mitigation, a timely and complex policy issue, has given me valuable insight into the unique challenges and opportunities associated with work in the government sector. As I transition to a new position as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the U.S. Department of Energy this fall, I look forward to applying my CASE Fellowship insight to federal-level efforts to accelerate the deployment of clean energy.