Alaska's senior senator questioned the head of the Environmental Protection Agency about its fiscal year 2020 budget request and the agency's effectiveness within the state.

During an Interior Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski wanted to make sure the EPA was addressing the unique challenges in Alaska, according to a statement from her office.

"When I go home to Alaska, I see firsthand how the EPA impacts the lives of Alaskans by improving the health of our communities. From restoring contaminated sites to ensuring clean drinking water, the EPA touches the lives of Americans across our country every day. This is why supporting EPA's core responsibilities of clean air, clean water, and clean land is so important," Murkowski said addressing Administrator Andrew Wheeler. 

The senator expressed her concerns over proposed reductions to grant programs that fund things like drinking water and sanitation infrastructure. She also brought up other Alaska-specific issues such as small remote incinerators are critical for solid waste disposal in rural communities, solutions for communities that rely on diesel generators, as well as offshore fish grinding policies.

Murkowski also asked Wheeler about the EPA's current plans to address PFAS, a group of man-made chemicals used in firefighting foams that is a major source of groundwater contamination at airports and military bases where training occurs, according to the EPA's website. The site also states PFAS are found in facilities used for oil recovery.

Exposure to the chemicals can lead to adverse health effects, including cancer.

"We're setting the standards, we're working with the states and other agencies that have standards and other health advisories for PFAS-PFOA. We're still enforcing our health advisory," Wheeler responded. "We're actively looking to see where [PFAS] may be to help those communities and we're conducting important research that will help us not only identify, but also identify which ones are the most harmful and also identify how we clean up — the best technologies to clean them up when we find them."

Contamination from the chemicals has been found multiple Alaska communities including Dillingham, Fairbanks and Utqiagvik.

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