Legislation to Fund PFAS Cleanup Is Introduced

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has introduced legislation with Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to help communities combat per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination and exposure in drinking water and groundwater. The Providing Financial Assistance to States (PFAS) for Testing and Treatment Act would provide substantial federal funding for PFAS remediation in drinking water and groundwater, including private wells. Federal and state-level testing has revealed the widespread presence of PFAS chemicals in drinking water systems and groundwater throughout the United States. PFAS chemicals are potentially linked to serious health effects, including cancer, harm to the kidneys and liver, harm to the developmental and reproductive systems, and reduced effectiveness of vaccines. This legislation builds on Shaheen’s leadership in Congress to uncover the health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to exposure, and remediate polluted sites.

Shaheen’s legislation is also sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Jack Reed (D-RI), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bob Casey (D-PA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

“PFAS exposure is a pervasive problem impacting water supplies in New Hampshire and throughout the country. This widespread concern demands a comprehensive, meaningful response from Congress so American families can trust the safety of the water coming out of their tap,” said Senator Shaheen. “This new legislation is an important step to help meet that goal by delivering robust federal resources to states to invest in remediation so we can quickly and efficiently clean our drinking water supplies when contamination is detected. I appreciate the continued work of advocates in New Hampshire and across the nation who have demanded accountability and action to combat PFAS exposure. This issue crosses party and state lines, which is why I will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to bring this critical legislation up for a vote.”

“While enforceable drinking water, clean water standards and the designation of the most harmful PFAS under the Superfund law are all urgently needed measures to address widespread contamination near military installations or other sites, communities will continue to need funding to remediate contamination and keep drinking water clean for years to come,” said Senator Carper. “Senator Shaheen’s legislation recognizes that need, and I am pleased to join her and Leader Schumer in this legislation. She has been a tireless advocate in ensuring that all Americans have safe, clean drinking water, and we support her in that fight.”

“Families need to know when they turn on their tap, their drinking water is safe. That is why I am joining my colleagues in outlining a comprehensive plan to address the prevalence of PFAS contamination in New York and around the country,” said Senator Schumer. “Thanks to leadership in the Senate and tireless advocacy of groups at the state and local level, we can provide much needed relief to affected communities and tackle this problem with the resources this public health issue demands.”

“We applaud Sen. Shaheen for introducing the PFAS Testing and Treatment Act, which will provide critical relief to communities in New Hampshire and around the country that have been hardest hit by the PFAS contamination crisis,” said Colin O’Neil, legislative director for the Environmental Working Group. “As many as 110 million Americans are drinking water contaminated with PFAS, which has been linked to cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, and reduced effectiveness of vaccines. The PFAS Testing and Treatment Act provides Congress with a blueprint for funding clean-up efforts that is commensurate with the urgent public health threat posed by PFAS contamination.”

The PFAS Testing and Treatment Act would help states respond to PFAS contamination and the health risks these material present to the public. This legislation would:

  • Increase funding for a newly created grant program within the Safe Drinking Water Act State Revolving Loan Fund to $1 billion per year over the next 10 years to go towards the clean-up of PFAS and other emerging contaminants in drinking water. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is directed to prioritize this funding to states according to the prevalence and remediation costs associated with PFAS. The eligible use of funds is also extended to the testing and treatment of private wells, which supply drinking water for over 43 million Americans.
  • Create a new grant program under the Clean Water Act that provides funding to states to help remediate groundwater contamination from PFOA and PFOS, two of the most prevalent PFAS chemicals. This section of the bill requires that groundwater contamination be addressed in accordance with interim guidance issued by the EPA in August 2018 or an applicable state, tribal or other standard, where those exist. These interim requirements will remain in place until the EPA acts to designate these chemicals as “hazardous substances” under the Superfund law. This program would be authorized at $1 billion per year over the next 10 years. EPA is directed to prioritize funding to states according to the prevalence and remediation costs associated with PFAS.

Senator Shaheen has spearheaded efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Government funding legislation recently signed into law included a number of provisions authored and supported by Shaheen to respond to PFAS contamination, including a provision that would phase out the use of PFAS in Department of Defense firefighting foams and prohibit its use in the military after 2024, an additional $10 million to continue the nationwide PFAS health impact study that Shaheen established in the fiscal year (FY) 2018 defense bill, $43 million for the EPA to help states address PFAS contamination and remediation, and funding for PFAS research on firefighters’ protective gear. In the annual defense bill signed into law last year, Senator Shaheen worked to include the bipartisan Safe Drinking Water Assistance Act, which expedites analysis of water contaminants like PFAS and provides support and resources to states dealing with the health challenges posed by these potentially harmful materials.

The full text of the legislation is available here.

Source: U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen

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