AUGUSTA, Maine — The Mills Administration has named Elizabeth (Beth) Fuller Valentine as the new PFAS Fund Director and announced the list of appointed members to serve on the newly established PFAS Fund Advisory Committee. The $60 million PFAS Fund, proposed by Governor Mills and passed by the State Legislature, will provide direct relief to Maine farmers impacted by PFAS contamination.
“Having a strong and dedicated leader to manage Maine’s robust response to PFAS contamination is critically important,” said Department of Agriculture Conservation and Forestry (DACF) Commissioner Amanda Beal. “Beth is uniquely qualified to work with the PFAS Advisory Committee to establish criteria for the PFAS Fund and to oversee the implementation of a suite of programs to support impacted farmers.”
Valentine has worked as an attorney at Jackson and MacNichol in South Portland and with the Maine Community Law Center in Portland. She also previously worked with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation/Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Valentine’s long-standing interest in agriculture and food systems also led to her participating in the Sustainable Food Leadership Institute and to contributing to the Conservation Law Foundation’s New England Food Policy: Building a Sustainable Food System publication. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in Biology from Hamilton College in Clinton, NY; a Master of Art in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI; and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.
Valentine, who joined the DACF in September, will oversee the administration and coordination of the PFAS Fund, work with the PFAS Advisory Committee, and lead planning to establish funding priorities and implement the program(s) to allocate funds.
“I am excited to be working with DACF and the members of the PFAS Advisory Committee,” said Director Valentine. “My goal for the Fund and its programs is to provide meaningful support to farmers impacted by PFAS contamination and to boost funding for critical research to, among other things, develop remediation strategies to address PFAS contamination where it is found.”
The PFAS Fund was established through Governor Mills’ Fiscal Year 2023 supplemental budget, which was approved by the Legislature in the last session, to address PFAS contamination of agricultural land through a suite of programs and approaches that may include:
- Direct support to farmers such as income replacement and equipment, facilities, and infrastructure investments to enable farmers to transition to alternative cropping systems or implement remediation strategies;
- Medical testing and monitoring of individuals whose agricultural land is contaminated by PFAS;
- And research, for example, to support short-term farm management decisions and identify soil and water remediation systems.
Today, the Mills Administration also announced the following fifteen individuals will serve as members of the PFAS Fund Advisory Committee:
- Committee chairs: Senator Stacy Brenner (D-Cumberland) and Representative Jessica Fay (D-Casco, Poland, and Raymond)
- Senator Rick Bennett (R-Oxford)
- Representative Randy Hall (R-Wilton)
- Amanda Beal, DACF Commissioner
- Melanie Loyzim, Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner
- Nirav Shah, Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director
- Diane Rowland, University of Maine College of Natural Sciences Maine Agricultural and Forest Experiment Station Dean
- Sherry Hamil, U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency State Executive Director
- Rebecca Boulos, Maine Public Health Association Executive Director
- Jenni Tilton Flood, Flood Brothers Farm
- Steve Crane, Crane Brothers Farm
- Jim Buckle, The Buckle Farm
- Katia Holmes, Misty Brook Farm
- Adrienne Lee, New Beat Farm
“PFAS contamination is a major issue for Mainers, especially our farmers. Thankfully, Maine is leading the way in addressing this problem head-on,” said Sen. Stacy Brenner, who co-owns and operates Broadturn Farm. “I’m incredibly proud of all the work the Maine legislature accomplished this session to stop the proliferation and spread of PFAS and invest in PFAS mitigation — including the PFAS fund.”
“Maine is on the leading edge of the nationwide PFAS contamination crisis. A big part of that must be addressing farmer needs,” said Rep. Jessica Fay. “Affected Maine farmers’ livelihoods and well-being are of the greatest importance. This process will take time and patience, but an excellent team with diverse knowledge and backgrounds is committed to the work.”
The PFAS Fund Advisory Committee was assembled following the representation requirements described in LD 2013. The PFAS Fund Advisory Committee will meet for orientation in October 2022 and begin holding regular working meetings in November.
Under the leadership of the Governor, Maine established a PFAS Task Force in early 2019 and has since taken decisive action to address PFAS contamination, including:
- Securing $30 million for PFAS remediation, which includes $10 million to help farmers impacted by PFAS, $15 million to provide safe drinking water, $5 million for environmental testing, and $5 million for managing PFAS-contaminated waste;
- Securing $5 million to address PFAS through the Maine Jobs and Recovery Plan;
- Securing $9.3 million to address PFAS through the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 supplemental budget;
- Securing $60 million to create a PFAS Trust Fund;
- Establishing drinking water standards for PFAS;
- Establishing containment and reporting requirements for firefighting foam containing PFAS;
- Installing more than 200 drinking water treatment systems;
- Establishing wastewater sludge testing requirements and eliminating land spreading of PFAS contaminated sludge;
- Establishing screening levels for PFAS in soil, wastewater, fish tissue, and milk, and;
- Expanding the statute of limitations for Maine citizens to file claims for PFAS contamination.
Under the Mills’ Administration, Maine has dedicated more than $100 million over the past two years to address PFAS impacts on Maine’s farmers and communities.
–Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry