Jul 12, 2019

House & Senate Disagree on PFAS Amendment

White House threatens to veto bill over PFAS language

White House threatens to veto bill over PFAS language

UPDATED 2:00 P.M. CENTRAL: The U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of National Defense Authorization Act with language that addresses perflouroalkyl substances (PFAS) in military firefighting foam. Reports July 11 indicated disagreement among legislators as to the inclusion of language aimed at addressing the PFAS family of chemicals, but the language survived deliberations. The White House said July 11 it would veto a bill with PFAS provisions .


The House, Senate and White House are in disagreement over a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment aimed to address toxic chemicals found in drinking water. 

According to E&E News, the White House is threatening to veto the bill over concerns relating to language involving per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The House NDAA language would prevent the Department of Defense (DOD) from using PFAS in firefighting foam, and it’s department would be required to phase out the chemicals by 2025 if the amendment passes. The Senate NDAA also includes PFAS language requiring U.S. EPA develop standards.

“If H.R. 2500 were presented to the president in its current form, his advisors would recommend that he veto it,” the White House said in a statement Tuesday, July 9. “At potentially great cost to and significant impact on DOD’s mission, the legislation singles out DOD, only one contributor to this national issue.”

The White House also noted the timeline may be too aggressive for DOD to appropriately and effectively comply by 2025. U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-Pa., sees the White House veto threat as an obstruction to public health and safety.

"We have legacy contamination that will take literally decades to clean up, and we want to just stop it now," said Rep. Madeleine Dean, according to E&E News. "We know of the harmful effects [of PFAS] and this administration is just anti-clean water." 

According to E&E News, Dean supported the House language. The Government Accountability Office estimated the Defense Department found 401 cases with either known or suspected releases of PFAS substances since August 2017.

PFAS is used in firefighting foam, in manufacturing plants and at municipal airports, according to The Hill. The family of chemicals, which numbers in the hundreds, has been linked to thyroid issues, birth defects and numerous other health issues, according to E&E News

The House NDAA also would give DOD the authority to treat contaminated water and provide supplies for farmers and their livestock. According to E&E News, dairy farmers from New Mexico to Maine reported dumping their milk and quarantining cows after finding high levels of PFAS in their water supply.