BREAKING: Shaheen Secures Funding for PFAS Health Impact Study, Enhancing Firefighter Gear Protections & Strengthening Testing Disclosure Requirements

June 16, 2022

Shaheen has led efforts in the Senate on PFAS legislation & established the PFAS health impact study in the FY2018 NDAA  

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, successfully secured the authorization of $20 million for a per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) health impact study at current and former U.S. military installations across the country, including at Pease Air National Guard Base in New Hampshire, in the fiscal year (FY) 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Shaheen established the study in the fiscal year 2018 NDAA. 

In addition, Senator Shaheen successfully added three amendments related to PFAS in the committee markup. The first amendment directs the Department of Defense to phase out procurement of PFAS-free firefighting turnout gear by October 1, 2026. This follows Shaheen-led efforts to expand blood testing and treatment for firefighters exposed to PFAS and a similar amendment she secured to ban the use of PFAS-laden firefighting foam in the FY 2020 NDAA. Senator Shaheen also included an amendment to clarify in statute that the National Guard can access Defense Environmental Restoration Program (DERP) funds for PFAS cleanup at state-owned Guard facilities, which would save the Guard from having to divert millions of dollars in funding they would otherwise use for training and operations. The third amendment Senator Shaheen successfully led enhances transparency by ensuring the Department of the Air Force is sharing PFAS test results with impacted communities.

The FY2023 NDAA passed the committee and will next be considered by the full Senate.  

"The expansive prevalence of PFAS chemicals in our environment set off alarms in our community, from contaminated drinking wells to military installations, soil, air and so forth. The wide scope and pervasive nature of this issue demands an all-hands-on-deck approach, which is why I fought to establish the first-ever nationwide health impact study and have continuously worked to secure the funding and authorization it needs to be completed. I’m pleased to share that today that effort was once again successful, and we are another step closer to delivering long-awaited information to families who’ve been calling and fighting for answers,” said Shaheen. “When I first started working on policies to combat PFAS exposure, this was a little-known issue. Thanks to advocacy in our communities and a bipartisan commitment in the Senate to address it, we’ve seen consistent support for the health impact study, record-level funding to address PFAS in the bipartisan infrastructure bill that I negotiated and much more. That is the kind of work we need to address this issue, and I'll continue working across the aisle to keep up that momentum to protect our water supplies, environment and families.” 

Senator Shaheen leads efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination, respond to the chemical exposure and remediate polluted sites. Last year, Shaheen announced new legislation to clean up PFAS at military installations with the highest levels of contamination. Shaheen has fought to secure consistent federal support for the PFAS health impact study that she established four years ago. Because of their efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. She has also fought for additional public disclosures of results of drinking and ground water testing, as well as improved guidance for spill prevention and mitigation of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF).    

Shaheen previously reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to provide rural communities under economic strain during the COVID-19 pandemic with $1 billion in emergency assistance to repair, modernize and renovate failing water infrastructure. She has also championed legislation, the PFAS Testing and Treatment Act, which helped lay groundwork for negotiations on PFAS provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law. In addition, Shaheen joined a bipartisan group of Senators in urging Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to allow state, tribal and local governments to use funds allocated through the American Rescue Plan to address contamination from PFAS, including in local water supplies. She also introduced legislation with Senator Padilla to limit air pollution from toxic PFAS chemicals. Last year, the Senate passed the bipartisan Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act, which included an amendment added by Senator Shaheen to address contamination in drinking water supplies from PFAS and other contaminants, that was ultimately signed into law as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.    

As a senior member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Shaheen helped secure investments in drinking water and wastewater infrastructure for New Hampshire in the FY2022 government funding bill that was recently signed into law. Congress provided $1.638 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRFs) and $1.126 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in the bill. This funding is in addition to historic investments in water infrastructure provided through the bipartisan infrastructure law, which Shaheen led negotiations around. Shaheen previously announced New Hampshire will receive more than $72 million in federal funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve New Hampshire’s drinking water and wastewater systems, including addressing PFAS and lead in Granite State water supplies. As a lead negotiator of the water provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law, Shaheen successfully secured $10 billion to address PFAS contamination around the country. Earlier this week, Shaheen announced $1 billion in available grant funding for states to apply for, which was made available through the bipartisan infrastructure law.  

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