WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, again secured a commitment from Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall that Selfridge Air National Guard Base will continue to play an important role in the U.S. Air Force’s long-term plans. The renewed commitment – which Peters secured at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing – comes after Peters hosted Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks at Selfridge in December and first secured a long-term commitment from the Department of Defense (DoD) that ensures the base is a key facility to our national security last July.
Peters also pressed Secretary Kendall on a letter he sent to DoD regarding their failure to meet major perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) reporting deadlines to Congress and to urge DoD to take additional action to protect Michigan communities from PFAS exposure.
“Selfridge is a critical component of our national defense and plays a key role in Michigan’s growing cutting-edge defense capabilities,” said Senator Peters, a former Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve. “I’ve routinely highlighted Michigan’s military installations, innovation and strategic positioning to the Department of Defense, and this commitment from Secretary Kendall reaffirms the Air Force’s pledge to Michigan for the long-term. As we work to support Michigan’s defense footprint, I’ll also keep pressing to ensure PFAS remediation efforts continue and hold the Defense Department accountable to protect health and safety of Michiganders.”
To watch Peters’ questioning at the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing click here.
The renewed commitment builds upon Peters’ strong advocacy in Congress for Michigan’s robust and growing defense sector. Peters worked, alongside Senator Debbie Stabenow (MI), to secure significant commitments from the Department of Defense (DoD) including a pledge that Selfridge will continue to play a vital role in the future of our national defense. Peters also helped pass into law a strong national defense law, which included nearly $144 million in investments for military facilities across Michigan that Peters secured, including $28 million in funding for a new A-10 hangar and maintenance facility at Selfridge.
In his letter to DoD, which was raised with Secretary Kendall, Peters holds the agency accountable for recently missing two key PFAS reporting deadlines. The first missed deadline was required due to a provision Peters authored into law as part of the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that encourages DoD to enter into cooperative agreements with states regarding the testing and remediation of PFAS contamination. Peters’ provision also requires DoD to report to Congress if a cooperative agreement is not reached within one year of the request from the state. On March 31, 2021, Governor Whitmer invoked Peters’ provision and requested DoD meet Michigan’s PFAS standards at all DoD linked contamination sites. DoD has yet to respond to Governor Whitmer’s request and therefore missed the March 31, 2022 congressional reporting deadline. Peters is now calling on DoD to explain their resistance to enter into an agreement with the State of Michigan and promptly establish a timeline for finalizing the agreement.
Additionally, DoD missed the March 1, 2022 deadline for reporting to Congress on the status of PFAS remediation efforts at 50 priority military installations, including the K.I. Sawyer and Wurtsmith Air Force Bases in Michigan. As a result, Peters urges DoD to prioritize using the most stringent PFAS standards, whether they be local, state, or federal, when it releases its cleanup plans and timelines.
You can read full text of this letter here.