Shaheen Applauds House Passage of Bill Improving Federal Response to PFAS Contamination, Calls for Senate Vote

January 10, 2020

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the PFAS Action Act – a bipartisan package to combat per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination and clean up polluted sites. The legislation would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to declare per-fluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) – two of the most prevalent PFAS chemicals – as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law, also known as CERCLA.  Last year, Senator Shaheen helped introduce similar legislation in the Senate with Senators Tom Carper (D-DE) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV):

“Congress and the administration need to be continually fighting for families so they can be confident that their drinking water is safe,” said Shaheen. “This bipartisan bill makes important progress toward that goal. Declaring PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds and setting enforceable drinking water standards have been top priorities for me, which is why I was very disappointed that they were left out of the annual defense legislation signed into law last year. The PFAS Action Act continues the bipartisan work we’ve started in Congress to improve transparency and accountability mechanisms to hold polluters responsible. I’m glad to see the House pass this legislation and I urge the Trump administration, Leader McConnell and Republicans in the Senate to stop their obstruction of this bill.”

The PFAS Action Act would require the EPA to issue drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS and determine, within 5 years, whether all PFAS chemicals should be designated as hazardous substances under the Superfund law. The bill also directs the EPA to establish enforceable drinking water limits for PFOA and PFOS within two years and creates a process to expedite considerations of enforceable drinking water standards for other chemicals in the PFAS family. In February 2019, Senator Shaheen led a bipartisan letter with Senator Capito that called on the EPA to establish federal drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS, to which the EPA responded that it “intends” to establish these standards.

This legislation also authorizes a new grant program and loans to help community water systems afford the upgrades needed to treat water for PFAS. Furthermore, this bipartisan legislation would require the EPA to add all PFAS to the list of hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act and issue regulations to minimize PFAS emissions when waste is incinerated.   

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. The defense bill signed into law last month included a provision sponsored by Shaheen that would phase out the use of PFAS in Department of Defense firefighting foams and prohibit its use in the military after 2024. Government funding legislation recently signed into law included a number of provisions authored and supported by Shaheen to respond to PFAS contamination, including 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 personal protective equipment research for firefighters’ protective gear.