Congressional defense bill tackles 'forever chemicals' with funding boost, policy reforms

WASHINGTON – The final version of Congress’ National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 includes $517 million in funding to clean up the toxic “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, and critical policy reforms for tackling PFAS contamination.

The important steps forward for addressing PFAS are detailed in the bill released today by the House and Senate Armed Services committees, chaired by Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) respectively.

“EWG applauds House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed and bipartisan champions in both chambers for fighting to protect service members and military communities from toxic PFAS, and holding the Pentagon accountable for cleaning up PFAS contamination,” said Scott Faber, EWG senior vice president for government affairs.

The final defense authorization bill includes PFAS provisions that will:

  • Require the Department of Defense to report to Congress with a schedule for PFAS cleanup 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 priority bases across the country
  • Require the DOD to test for PFAS within two years at hundreds of military installations, including formerly used defense sites and National Guard facilities where PFAS has been released
  • Require the DOD to publish and make publicly available results of drinking and groundwater testing for PFAS conducted on or near military installations, formerly used defense sites and National Guard sites
  • Require the DOD to publicly disclose plans for future PFAS testing and to notify nearby public water systems, municipal governments and local cleanup advisory groups
  • Place a temporary moratorium on the unsafe incineration of firefighting foam containing PFAS and materials contaminated by PFAS until the secretary of defense implements the Environmental Protection Agency’s interim destruction and guidance and incineration limits included in the FY 2020 NDAA
  • Direct the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study of DOD purchasing policies of household goods that commonly contain PFAS and report on any progress made on prohibiting their purchase 
  • Create a DOD PFAS task force to coordinate response to the chemicals
  • Authorize an additional $15 million to continue to study the health exposure of defense communities affected by PFAS, by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
  • Authorize $15 million for PFAS-based firefighting foam replacement, disposal and cleanup technology
  • Provide $15 million for PFAS remediation and disposal technology
  • Require the DOD to promote the prevention of aqueous film-forming foam spills and cleanup guidance for implementation across the military departments.

The bill's dedicated PFAS cleanup funds include $175 million for the Air Force, $167.3 million for the Navy and $98.8 million for the Army and $74 million for formerly used defense sites.

Faber added, “Congress remains as determined as ever to address the ballooning PFAS contamination crisis in the annual defense spending bill, thanks to the bipartisan efforts of Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), Andy Levin (D-Mich.), Bill Posey (R-Fla.), Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), John Sarbanes (Md.), Nancy Mace (R-S.C.), Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.), Teresa Leger Fernandez (N.M.), Deborah Ross (D- N.C.), John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Mike Turner (R-Ohio), Jack Bergman (R-Mich.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), David Rouzer (R-N.C.), Don Young (R-Alaska), Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), Christopher Smith (R-N.J.), Lisa McClain (R-Mich.) and Andrew Garbarino (R-N.Y.).”


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.

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