Shaheen Raises PFAS Contamination, Highway Funding in Hearing with Biden Admin Officials on American Jobs PlanApril 20, 2021
**A senior member of the Appropriations Committee, Senator Shaheen questioned top Biden administration officials on confronting PFAS contamination in water supplies and addressing New Hampshire’s low apportionment of federal highway funding.**
**Hearing follows Shaheen’s bipartisan meeting with President Biden and fellow lawmakers on investing in transportation & infrastructure**
Shaheen questions Biden administration officials on American Jobs Plan.
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, questioned top Biden administration officials on issues critical to New Hampshire and the nation during a committee hearing on the American Jobs Plan. The hearing’s witnesses included Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan, Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Department of Housing and Urban Development Marcia Fudge. Shaheen’s questioning focused on combating per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure in water supplies and addressing New Hampshire’s low apportionment of federal highway funding.
Shaheen’s PFAS questions were on provisions in the American Jobs Plan that respond to drinking water infrastructure, specifically on the $10 billion to address contamination, which is consistent with Shaheen’s PFAS Testing and Treatment Act. Her questions focused on how this funding would be used, and she asked for assurances that the administration is planning to address PFAS exposure for households who depend on private wells that have been contaminated. Shaheen cited the prevalence of PFAS in water supplies in New Hampshire, specifically at the former Pease Air Force Base.
Shaheen also raised that while the state of New Hampshire has developed PFAS drinking water standards to protect residents’ health that are more stringent than EPA guidance, the Defense Department does not apply the state standards in all cases. Shaheen questioned Administrator Regan on what EPA can do to address the mismatch between state regulations and the less protective federal guidance to ensure the Department of Defense appropriately addresses pollution it has caused.
Her questioning can be viewed here.
Senator Shaheen also raised concerns related to New Hampshire’s lowest apportionment in the nation for formula grant programs administered by the Federal Transit Administration and the Federal Highway Administration. She cited that in fiscal year (FY) 2021, New Hampshire received roughly $181 million in federal highway funding, the lowest apportionment in the country, and far less than neighboring state Vermont, which received roughly $222 million. Shaheen questioned Secretary Buttigieg on what measures and formula factors he envisioned to help address inequities between the states in federal highway and transit funding apportionments.
Her questioning can be viewed here.
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. Shaheen has consistently secured and boosted federal funding for the PFAS health impact study that she worked to establish four years ago. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. The study at Pease is actively seeking participants. In February, Shaheen reintroduced bipartisan legislation with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) to provide rural communities under economic strain during the COVID-19 pandemic with emergency assistance to repair, modernize and renovate failing water infrastructure. The Emergency Assistance for Rural Water Systems Act would provide $1 billion in emergency grants, low- and zero-interest loans and loan forgiveness for struggling small and rural water and wastewater systems across the nation. In addition, Shaheen recently 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.
Senator Shaheen has long fought to bring federal dollars back to New Hampshire to invest in critical transportation and infrastructure projects to fix Granite State roads, rail, bridges and ports. As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Shaheen has historically worked to secure federal support for federal highway programs in government funding legislation. In the FY2019 funding legislation, Shaheen supported funding for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) formula programs that the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act authorized level of $46 billion – a $1.03 billion increase over the previous year. Shaheen has also led legislation, the Strengthen and Fortify Existing (SAFE) Bridges Act, to begin to address the more than 47,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country, and introduced legislation that would create a national infrastructure initiative to fund innovative projects that promote energy efficiency while meeting significant transportation needs.
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