House passes amendment to address 'forever chemicals' in defense spending bill

WASHINGTON – House lawmakers today approved a bipartisan amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 by a vote of 236 to 186 that includes critical reforms for addressing the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS.

“Thanks to bipartisan efforts, Congress remains as determined as ever to address the ballooning PFAS contamination crisis and close loopholes that allow industrial polluters and the military to evade safeguards intended to protect the public from toxic PFAS,” said Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs.

The PFAS amendment, led by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), John Sarbanes (D-Md.), Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) and Bill Posey (R-Fla.) would, among other things:

  • Close a Trump-era loophole that currently allows manufacturers to underreport their PFAS discharges into the air and water.
  • Require the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a national drinking water standard for two specific PFAS – PFOA and PFOS – within two years.
  • Expand the temporary moratorium on the unsafe burning of PFAS-based firefighting foam by the Pentagon.
  • Ensure the EPA uses the most health-protective definition of PFAS for reporting and regulatory matters.
  • Direct the Secretary of Defense to provide Defense Department medical providers with mandatory training with respect to the potential health effects of PFAS.

The bipartisan PFAS amendment passed by the House today builds upon the important PFAS-related provisions already adopted in the underlying NDAA, including $549 million in dedicated funding to test for and clean up PFAS at military installations. 

Faber added, “EWG applauds Reps. Slotkin, Sarbanes, Delgado, Fitzpatrick, Levin, Leger Fernández, Ross, Mace and Posey for fighting to protect service members and frontline communities from toxic PFAS and holding the Pentagon accountable for cleaning up PFAS contamination.

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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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