House Armed Services Committee advances critical PFAS actions, cleanup funds

WASHINGTON – The House Armed Services Committee is expected as early as this evening to advance the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022, with critical provisions for the Pentagon to address the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

The legislation includes a dedicated $549 million for the Defense Department to clean up PFAS contamination that is widespread at bases throughout the U.S. It also includes important mandates for the Pentagon to protect service members and defense communities, such as testing for PFAS at bases and buying goods that are PFAS-free.

“Thanks to bipartisan efforts, Congress remains as determined as ever to reduce needless exposures to toxic PFAS and help combat the ballooning PFAS contamination crisis at military bases and nearby communities throughout the country,” said Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs.

The PFAS provisions are the result of efforts by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Michael Turner (R-Ohio), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.) and Bill Posey (R-Fla.).

Faber added, “EWG applauds Chairman Smith and the other lawmakers for fighting to protect service members and defense communities from toxic PFAS, and holding the Pentagon accountable for cleaning up contamination.”

The defense authorization bill includes PFAS provisions that would:

  • Require DOD to report to Congress with a schedule for cleaning up PFAS contamination at all military installations, National Guard facilities, and formerly used defense sites where PFAS contamination has been identified, and provide a status report on 50 of the most contaminated bases. (Speier-Bergman amendment)
  • Require DOD to test for PFAS within two years at the nearly 300 military installations, including formerly used defense sites and National Guard facilities where PFAS contamination is suspected but not yet confirmed. (Speier amendment)
  • Require DOD to provide all members of the Armed Forces and the Coast Guard with the opportunity to have their blood tested for PFAS if it’s determined they might have been exposed to PFAS. (Slotkin-Turner amendment)
  • Direct DOD to buy or obtain certain PFAS-free household goods through its procurement process, including food packaging, cookware, furniture, carpets and other goods. (Slotkin amendment, with support from Posey)
  • Ensure that DOD comply with state cleanup standards when remediating military sites contaminated with PFAS. (Slotkin amendment)
  • Require DOD to publicly report the test results for PFAS at all military sites where tests have been conducted since 2016 and alert communities when it tests for PFAS. (Slotkin, Garamendi, Turner amendment)

The bill's PFAS testing and cleanup funds include $100 million for formerly used defense sites, $175 million for the Air Force, $174 million for the Navy and $100 million for the Army.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action. Visit www.ewg.org for more information.

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