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Peters Blasts White House Objections to Bipartisan PFAS Provisions in Defense Bill

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) today released the following statement after the White House detailed numerous objections to the Senate-approved National Defense Authorization Act of 2020. Among their concerns were bipartisan provisions Peters authored and supported to address the PFAS crisis in Michigan and across the country, including requiring the Department of Defense (DOD) to phase out the use of firefighting foams containing PFAS at military installations.

“Taking decisive action to address toxic PFAS contamination should not become a partisan issue. Michigan families are suffering every day from the very real impacts of PFAS contamination and exposure. The White House’s objections to bipartisan efforts to deal with this crisis are simply wrong and an affront to Michiganders demanding action. We cannot wait for delays or ineffective half measures to protect our water sources from toxic PFAS chemicals.”

Peters has led numerous efforts in Congress to address PFAS contamination in Michigan and around the country. Peters secured provisions to help address PFAS that passed the Senate in June. Included were provisions to encourage the Department of Defense to finalize cooperative agreements with states and partner with governors to address, test, monitor, remove, or remediate PFAS contamination originating from DoD activities, including at decommissioned military installations and National Guard facilities. If a cooperative agreement is not reached within one year of the request from a state, the Secretary of Defense must report to Congress explaining why. This measure is similar to bipartisan legislation that Peters introduced in May with Senator Debbie Stabenow and other colleagues.

The Senate-passed NDAA also includes a provision to authorize $2 million for advance computer modeling to improve the understanding of PFAS. This is similar to bipartisan legislation Peters authored and introduced recently. The bill also prevents the Department of Defense from buying firefighting foam that contains PFAS after October 1, 2022. This builds on Peters’ work in last year’s annual defense bill that is now law, which urged DoD to develop fluorine-free firefighting foams.

Also included in the legislation is an amendment Peters supported that:

  • Requires the EPA to issue drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS within two years;
  • Provides the US Geological Survey with more resources to develop new advanced technologies to detect PFAS and conduct nationwide sampling for PFAS in the environment—based on the bipartisan PFAS Detection Act that Peters introduced with Stabenow earlier this year; and
  • Adding PFAS to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory, affording better transparency on when and where PFAS chemicals are created, used and disposed of.