05.23.19

Peters’ PFAS Provisions Advance to Full Senate As Part of National Defense Bill

Measures Seek to Increase Coordination Between Pentagon and States; Prevent DoD From Buying Firefighting Foam Containing PFAS; Improve Understanding of PFAS Through Advanced Computer Modeling

WASHINGTON, DC – Provisions that U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) led to address the PFAS crisis in Michigan and across the country will advance to the full Senate, after the Senate Armed Services Committee passed the measures as part of the national defense bill. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which sets policy for the Department of Defense, has been enacted into law for more than 55 consecutive years.

Peters secured a provision that would 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 earlier this month with Senator Debbie Stabenow and other colleagues. The committee-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.

“To address the PFAS crisis impacting families and communities across Michigan, we must take action,” said Senator Peters, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m pleased that the national defense bill advancing to the full Senate includes my provision that aims to increase coordination between the Department of Defense and states on remediation efforts for contaminated PFAS sites. This bill builds on my efforts on PFAS with measures to prevent the Department of Defense from using firefighting foams with PFAS in the future. It also would make investments in advanced computer modeling so that the Pentagon can work to solve problems caused by exposure to PFAS.”

A recent study found Michigan has the most PFAS contaminated sites in the country, which in part may reflect the state’s ongoing efforts to test for PFAS.

Peters has led numerous initiatives in the Senate to address PFAS. Among his recent efforts, Peters recently hosted a top Air Force official in Oscoda and pressed the Air Force to do more to cleanup PFAS contamination in areas surrounding the former Wurtsmith Air Force Base. The visit came at the request of Peters who had called on the Air Force to work with the state of Michigan on clean-up efforts. In March, Peters helped lead introduction of bipartisan legislation that would mandate the EPA declare PFAS as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA’s Superfund law – enabling a requirement that polluters undertake or pay for remediation.

As the Ranking Member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee — the Senate’s top oversight committee — Peters is playing a leading role in addressing the PFAS crisis. In March, Peters led a bipartisan effort with Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) calling on the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for more information following reports that a review of the EPA’s PFAS plan was delayed due to intergovernmental disagreement about standards. In addition, Peters led a bipartisan effort including Chairman Johnson requesting that the U.S. Government Accountability (GAO) review the estimated costs to the federal government to clean up contamination.

Prior to that, Peters authored a provision that is now law to allow airports to transition away from using firefighting foams that contain PFAS. Previously, airports were required by law to use these foams based off an outdated specification. Peters helped convene the first Senate hearing on PFAS to discuss the federal government’s role in the cleanup process and convened a Senate field summit in Grand Rapids to hear from affected Michiganders and highlight how federal actions can support local efforts.

###