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Shaheen, Rounds Lead Bipartisan Letter Urging the DoD to Increase Funding to Address PFAS Contamination

(Washington, DC)— U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), senior members of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, sent a bipartisan letter to Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin urging the DoD to increase funding necessary to accelerate testing and remediation for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination related to military installations in fiscal year (FY) 2025.

The Senators wrote, in part, “The Department has historically struggled to execute increased funding levels Congress has been willing to authorize for PFAS remediation, resulting in a growing backlog of contaminated sites across the country that threaten the health and safety of communities, including those who live on or near military installations.”

“We urge you to provide the funding necessary to fully implement the Department’s recently announced policy on ‘interim actions’ for sites contaminated by PFAS. While we welcome the announcement of this new policy, we note the importance of ensuring implementation be fully funded to capitalize on opportunities for accelerated action,” the Senators continued.

The Senators asked for a detailed update on implementation progress by December 30, 2023. Their letter can be read in full here.

In addition to Shaheen and Rounds, the letter is signed by U.S. Senators Hassan (D-NH), King (I-ME), Brown (D-OH), Warren (D-MA), Peters (D-MI), Gillibrand (D-NY), Fetterman (D-PA), Durbin (D-IL), Kaine (D-VA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Booker (D-NJ), Warnock (D-GA), Padilla (D-CA), Casey (D-PA), Duckworth (D-IL), Heinrich (D-NM), Kelly (D-AZ), Cantwell (D-WA), Ossoff (D-GA), Stabenow (D-MI), Schatz (D-HI), Hirono (D-HI), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Sanders (I-VT) and Welch (D-VT). 

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. In the Senate-passed fiscal year (FY) 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Senator Shaheen included numerous PFAS provisions, including $5 million to continue and expand the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)/Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) PFAS health impact study that she established four years ago. Senator Shaheen has led efforts in Congress to uncover the potential health effects related to PFAS contamination. Because of her efforts, Pease is serving as a model site for the nationwide study. This builds on her work in the FY2023 NDAA signed into law last year, in which Shaheen added an amendment to prohibit the Department of Defense (DOD) from purchasing PFAS-laden firefighting turnout gear after October 1, 2026. This followed 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. As a lead negotiator of water provisions in the bipartisan infrastructure law, Shaheen secured record-level funding to upgrade drinking water and wastewater infrastructure and address PFAS contamination.  In this year’s Committee-passed bill, Shaheen also secured language urging the Department of Defense to utilize safe, on-site PFAS destruction technologies. She also fought to successfully include a number of amendments to the Committee-passed bill focused on increasing transparency related to the Department’s PFAS testing and remediation efforts.