WASHINGTON, D.C. – A measure introduced by U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a leader on the Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW); Tom Carper (D-Del.), the top EPW Democrat; and John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of EPW, to address the risks and challenges associated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) today passed the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 (NDAA).
“I’m also so proud that this legislation includes language I authored to address the PFAS challenges our country is facing,” Senator Capito said. “PFAS pollution has created significant public health challenges across the country, and it’s time that we formulated a commonsense, yet effective, national response. As the Environmental Protection Agency has moved slowly with its own efforts to address PFAS concerns, this measure will help us take responsible and measured legislative action to protect the health of Americans across the country, as well as the environment. This is an important step in laying the foundation for a PFAS response, and I will continue leading the way toward a broader PFAS strategy.”
“The provisions we secured in this legislation will improve both the federal government’s understanding of and response to PFAS contamination,” Senator Carper said. “The Department of Defense’s use of firefighting foam containing PFAS is a significant source of this contamination. The use of these chemicals in firefighting foam has undoubtedly saved lives, but the cruel irony is that those same life-saving chemicals can endanger lives when they wind up in a glass of drinking water. While the provisions we included in this package are an important start, I am disappointed that we were unable to successfully include the legislation I introduced with Senator Capito that would designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund law, and I will continue to fight to ensure that important measure is enacted into law.”
“The Senate has passed landmark, bipartisan legislation to address pollution caused by PFAS chemicals,” Senator Barrasso said. “Among other things, this bipartisan legislation will ensure that EPA sets a national drinking water standard for the most toxic of these substances. If enacted, it will be the first time that Congress has mandated that EPA set such a standard since 1996. The legislation will also require industrial manufacturers and users to notify the public when PFAS chemicals are released into the environment. This legislation will go a long way towards helping communities combat PFAS pollution.”
The Capito-Carper-Barrasso PFAS measure in the FY2020 NDAA includes the PFAS Release Disclosure Act (S. 1507), legislation Senators Capito and Carper have led with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to provide a clear process for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to identify and share with the public and policymakers sources of PFAS emissions around the country, while respecting the formal rulemaking processes and scientific approach.
It also includes additional measures that would:
• Set a national primary drinking water regulation for PFAS based at a minimum on PFOA and PFOS under the Safe Drinking Water Act, provide financial assistance to rural systems to reduce PFAS in drinking water, and ensure EPA continues to monitor for and decide whether to regulate additional PFAS chemicals.
• Issue a section 8(a) data call to PFAS manufacturers under the Toxic Substances Control Act to obtain information about which PFAS chemicals were historically manufactured and sold.
• Finalize its 2015 proposed Significant New Use Rule on long-chain PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
• Require EPA to issue guidance on how to dispose of and destroy PFAS.
• Provide funding for research, require new monitoring and sampling, and require better interagency coordination on PFAS chemicals.
The Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW) last week voted to advance a standalone version of the measure.
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