PFAS Provisions Dropped from Annual Defense Spending Bill

U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Washington) informed reporters in early December that House/Senate negotiations over the National Defense Authorization Act concluded after an impasse over how stringent to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

According to Bloomberg News, Smith said that the House Democrats wouldn’t compromise with Senate Republications over two provisions in order to push the NDAA closer to being finalized:

  • Setting of a drinking water standard for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS)
  • Listing any number of thousands of PFAS under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (Superfund law).

“If we had accepted that compromise, we wouldn’t have gotten” the NDAA as it stands, Smith said in the Bloomberg News article.

Also in the article, Smith referenced the gains made in controlling PFAS that the NDAA still offers, notably the promise that the Department of Defense would reduce its use of the chemicals in the coming years.

The Senate on December 17 approved the fiscal 2020 NDAA by a vote of 86-8, sending the bill to the White House where President Donald J. Trump is expected to sign it into law.

It’s expected that Democrats will likely package the PFAS provisions left out of the NDAA into a bill and aggressively pursue the legislation in early 2020.