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PFAS Cleanup Bill Passes House

Washington Report

New legislation would require the Pentagon to work with states and communities to clean up potentially cancer-causing chemicals contaminating military installations, including many Guard facilities.

The PFAS Action Act of 2019 (H.R. 535) was approved by the House in a 247 to 159 vote on Friday. It now faces an uphill battle in the Senate.

The House bill, approved largely along party lines with Democrats approving the measure, would reclassify some types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances as hazardous materials.

The chemicals, commonly known as PFAS, are found in firefighting foam and have been linked to water contamination on hundreds of military facilities. PFAS has been linked to numerous health problems, including cancer, high cholesterol and thyroid disease.

If the law is enacted, contaminated areas would become Superfund sites, opening the doors to federal funding to accelerate the cleanup process. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the bill will cost at least $300 million in the next decade if it becomes law.

White House officials have said President Donald Trump would be likely to veto the bill due to the substantial costs and the bill’s potential to open the federal government up to litigation, according to reports.

The fiscal 2020 National Defense Authorization Act contained several PFAS-related provisions, including one that would require the Defense Department to find a replacement for firefighting foam using the chemicals.

But other provisions related to PFAS cleanup were removed from the bill following a stalemate between Republicans and Democrats conferring on a final version of the bill.