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Gillibrand calls for PFAs provisions in defense bill

PRESS RELEASE


WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today announced they are calling on the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee to include their bipartisan, Senate-passed per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) provisions in the upcoming final National Defense Authorization Act conference bill.

“As you begin conference negotiations with the House of Representatives to reconcile the House and Senate-passed NDAAs, we request that you insist on including the Senate’s provisions in the final conference bill,” the Senators wrote“These provisions, which enjoy widespread bipartisan support in the Senate and were unanimously reported out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, would address the urgent issue of PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Toxic Substances Control Act, and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act.”

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a group of manufactured chemicals, including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), that are persistent in the environment and resist degradation. Exposure to PFAS chemicals has been linked to certain cancers and other serious, adverse health effects. Communities throughout New York State have been affected by PFAS contamination. Gillibrand has been one of the leaders in the Senate fighting to protect communities from PFAS exposure. Two bipartisan bills led by Senators Gillibrand and Capito to combat PFAS contamination across the country successfully passed the Senate as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The first piece of legislation, introduced with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), would require the EPA to set an enforceable drinking water standard for toxic PFAS chemicals. The other bill, introduced with Senators Capito and Tom Carper (D-DE), would identify and publicly share sources of PFAS emissions in New York and across the country. Gillibrand also announced that an amendment she co-authored to ban PFAS chemicals in firefighting foams used on military bases was also included as a part of the Senate NDAA. Gillibrand has long advocated for biomonitoring programs to help address the health concerns of New York residents affected by PFAS contamination. In 2016, she called on the CDC to partner with the New York State Department of Health to offer blood testing for Newburgh residents exposed to PFAS chemicals. She also requested the CDC to proactively conduct a public health assessment of the Saint-Gobain Site in Hoosick Falls.

Earlier this year, Senator Capito joined with EPW Ranking Member Tom Carper to introduce bipartisan legislation that would mandate the EPA within one year of enactment declare PFAS as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law and also enable a requirement that polluters undertake or pay for remediation. As part of her ongoing efforts to address and prevent PFAS contamination, she has also worked to secure funding to remediate contamination in Berkeley County, West Virginia.

A copy of the letter may be found here and below:

The Honorable James Inhofe
Chairman 
Senate Armed Services Committee
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510 

The Honorable Jack Reed                                               
Ranking Member
Senate Armed Services Committee
228 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairman Inhofe and Ranking Member Reed:

We write to express our strong support for the provisions in Title LXVII related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the Senate-passed (S. 1790) Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (FY 2020 NDAA). These provisions, which enjoy widespread bipartisan support in the Senate and were unanimously reported out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, would address the urgent issue of PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and the Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA). As you begin conference negotiations with the House of Representatives to reconcile the House and Senate-passed NDAAs, we request that you insist on including the Senate’s provisions in the final conference bill.

Title LXVII, Subtitle A, PFAS Release Disclosure, amends EPCRA to (1) require EPA to list certain PFAS on the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) including perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), any PFAS subject to an existing or future Significant New Use Rule (SNUR) under TSCA, and any PFAS subject to a finalized toxicity value, (2) direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decide whether to add several additional specific PFAS for addition to the TRI within two years, (3) set the reporting threshold for PFAS by entities subject to TRI reporting at a level of 100 pounds and revisit these thresholds after five years, and (4) protect confidential business information (CBI) from publication while still including relevant PFAS compounds in TRI reporting and maximizing transparency, among other provisions;
Title LXVII, Subtitle B, Drinking Water, amends SDWA to (1) require the EPA to promulgate an enforceable primary national drinking water regulation and set standards for certain PFAS, (2) authorize states to use their Drinking Water State Revolving Funds (DWSRF) to provide grants to public water systems for PFAS treatment, and (3) require monitoring for additional PFAS as analytical methods become available, among other provisions;
Title LXVII, Subtitle D, Safe Drinking Water Assistance, requires federal agencies to coordinate research on emerging contaminants and directs EPA to develop a technical assistance program to help states address emerging contaminants in drinking water, among other provisions; and 
Title LXVII, Subtitle E, Miscellaneous, amends TSCA to require manufacturers to submit additional data on PFAS and requires EPA finalize significant new use rules for long-chain PFAS. Subtitle E also requires EPA to publish guidance on PFAS disposal.

As you prepare the Conference Report, we urge you to include these important provisions to help remediate and prevent further contamination of PFAS chemicals in the drinking water of communities across the nation. 

We thank you for your leadership, and appreciate your consideration of our requests.

Sincerely,

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