Congressional PFAS Task Force and Others Sign Letter Asking House and Senate Negotiators to Maintain Provisions to Respond to Contamination

A Congressional PFAS Task Force and other members of Congress signed a letter on September 3 asking congressional leadership finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019 to keep the House of Representative and Senate provisions addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination and cleanup. In total, a bipartisan group of 162 members of the House of Representatives signed the letter.

As members of Congress return from the August recess, differences between the House and Senate versions of the National Defense Authorization Act, the defense spending authorization bill, will be negotiated this month.

Circle of Blue reports the White House issued a veto threat in July against the House bill, which designates PFAS as hazardous substances under federal law and requires the military to discontinue the use of fluorine firefighting foams by 2025.

Despite some differences, both bills set a timetable for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to establish a national drinking water standard for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS).

The September 3 letter notes that among the Senate and House provisions included in the Authorization Act are items relating to groundwater that would:

  • Require groundwater and drinking water quality monitoring for PFAS
  • Require reporting of industrial discharges of PFAS
  • Accelerate PFAS cleanups at military facilities through the use of cooperative agreements
  • Designate PFAS as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as the Superfund law
  • Require permits for PFAS discharges under the Clean Water Act
  • Require the EPA to set a sufficiently protective drinking water standard for PFAS compounds
  • Require the Department of Defense to treat and clean PFAS-contaminated water used for agricultural purposes.