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Reps. Kildee, Fitzpatrick Push PFAS Priorities for 2021 National Defense Authorization Act

April 2, 2020
Press Release
Letter to House Armed Services Committee Addresses Need for Tougher PFAS Provisions

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic Caucus and co-chair of the Congressional PFAS Task Force, along with co-chair Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) today sent a letter outlining their priorities to address in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to address harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals.

The letter, addressed to House Armed Services Committee, was signed by 22 Republican and Democratic Members of Congress who are a part of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force.

“As members of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force, we are writing in regard to policies that we would like to see included in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act to address harmful PFAS chemicals impacting our communities and service members,” the letter reads in part.

“I want to thank Chairman Smith for including many important provisions to address PFAS chemicals in last year’s bill. As we look ahead to the next National Defense Authorization Act, we must take additional action, including establishing a drinking water standard for PFAS and requiring polluters, including the Defense Department, to more urgently clean up contamination. It is long past time that we get serious about cleaning up these chemicals in our communities to protect service members and communities like Oscoda,” Congressman Kildee said.

“Defense Department records tell us that the PFAS pollution problem on and near military bases is far greater than we previously knew. Thanks to the leadership of Congressman Dan Kildee, important progress was made in the NDAA for fiscal year 2020. But much more needs to be done to clean up legacy PFAS pollution at military installations and nearby communities,” said Scott Faber, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Congressman Kildee has worked with Republicans and Democrats at all levels of government to address PFAS chemical contamination. As the founder and co-chair of the PFAS bipartisan task force, Kildee has previously introduced legislation to set a national drinking water standard for PFAS, clean-up efforts and detect PFAS contamination at other sites across the country. In January, Kildee also championed the passage of the PFAS Action Act through the House.

Below is the full text of the letter:

Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry:

As members of the bipartisan Congressional PFAS Task Force, we are writing in regard to policies that we would like to see included in the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to address harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals impacting our communities and service members. Using DOD data, experts have now identified 678 DOD installations with confirmed or suspected PFAS contamination.

Thank you for taking important steps in the 2020 NDAA to address harmful PFAS chemicals. Despite the progress we made, we still must take bolder steps in this year’s NDAA.

We recommend including the following in this year’s legislation.

The H.R. 535, PFAS Action Act. The PFAS Action Act passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support in January. The PFAS Action Act would:

  • Protect drinking water from PFAS by requiring the EPA to create a drinking water standard for two types of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, within two years.
  • Protect the lakes, rivers and streams from PFAS pollution by listing PFOS and PFOA under the Clean Water Act within two years.
  • Require corporate polluters clean up their PFAS contamination by listing PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the CERCLA Act or the Superfund Law.

Increase dedicated funding for PFAS remediation in Defense Environmental Remediation and Base Realignment and Closure accounts. PFAS remediation currently accounts for a small share of annual Department of Defense (DOD) spending – over $200 million in FY 2020 – and DOD recently announced it could take up to 30 years to clean up contaminated PFAS sites. Dedicated PFAS remediation funding would ensure that DOD cleans up PFAS pollution more quickly, protecting our communities and service members from these harmful chemicals.

Blood testing for all DOD personnel and dependents who may have been exposed to PFAS, including retired personnel and their dependents. We applaud the committee’s inclusion in the 2020 NDAA of a requirement to allow for active duty military firefighters to have their blood tested. Other active duty personnel, their dependents, and retired DOD personnel, however, are not eligible for PFAS blood testing. Service members and their families deserve to know whether their PFAS blood levels increase their risk of cancer, reproductive problems, or other diseases.

Increase Protections for Military Firefighters. Military firefighters not only have exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam, but it also is in the protective gear that they wear. We must protect our firefighters from PFAS by eliminating it safely from their gear, and also supporting those firefighters who have already been exposed to high levels of this harmful chemical.  

A registry to notify DOD personnel and dependents that they may have been exposed to PFAS. There should be a PFAS registry similar to the registries established for service members exposed to other environmental hazards and would also require DOD to create an easy-to-use web site to allow current and retired service members to see whether they were exposed to PFAS during the service. A registry would alert service members about new science related to PFAS, including the risks of health effects.

Phase out of other non-essential PFAS uses by DOD.  We thank the Committee for their work in the 2020 NDAA to end the use of PFAS in DOD’s food packaging. We would like to build on that progress by phasing out other non-essential DOD uses of PFAS, such as PFAS in DOD textiles and DOD cosmetics. Because servicemembers are disproportionately exposed to PFAS, Congress should take steps to limit needless PFAS exposures.

Prohibit incineration of firefighting foam containing PFAS until DOD finalizes guidance required by the 2020 NDAA. According to Sec. 330 of the 2020 NDAA, DOD is required to create guidance on proper disposal of firefighting foam containing PFAS. DOD, however, has issued contracts to incinerate these legacy products before completing guidance. If these legacy firefighting foam products are not properly incinerated, PFAS will be discharged into the air and can contaminate our communities. DOD must not try to circumvent Congressional intent by incinerating these products before proper disposal guidance is created.

Thank you for your continued attention to PFAS and the impact these harmful chemicals are having on our communities. We look forward to working with you in a bipartisan manner to address these issues.

Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05), Chief Deputy Whip of the House Democratic, Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01),Congressman Andy Levin (MI-09), Congresswoman Madeline Dean (PA-04), Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01), Chairman Richard Neal (MA-01), Congressman Harley Rouda (CA-48), Congressman Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Chairman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (MI-08), Congressman Antonio Delgado (NY-19), Congresswoman Anne McLane Kuster (NH-02), Congresswoman Haley M. Stevens (MI-11), Congresswoman Chelli Pingree (ME-01), Congressman James P. McGovern (MA-02), Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-02), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23), Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Congressman Bobby L. Rush (IL-01), Congresswoman Nannette Barragan (CA-44), Congressman John B. Larson (CT-01), and Congresswoman Kathy Castor (FL-11)

 

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