News Feature | August 1, 2017

Defense Spending Could Be A Vehicle For PFC Bills

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome

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Pennsylvania lawmakers are trying to pass water contamination legislation as part of a major defense spending bill.

“U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, a Philadelphia Democrat, Brian Fitzpatrick, a Republican representing Bucks and part of Montgomery County, and Pat Meehan, a Republican representing parts of five counties west of Philadelphia, each announced an amendment to the House's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) with the goal of changing military action on water contamination from firefighting foam,” the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

The water quality language is more likely to become law if it becomes part of the “must-pass” military legislation.

“For decades, the military used firefighting foams with perfluorinated compounds PFOS and PFOA on bases across the country. In the past several years, concern has spiked over whether the chemicals are toxic, potentially endangering local communities whose water supply may have been tainted,” the report said.

Here’s what one of the amendments would do, per the Bucks County Courier Times: “Boyle’s amendment would require the military, within 180 days, to deliver a report on its progress in phasing out hazardous ‘legacy’ firefighting foams, replacing them with newer varieties believed to be environmentally safer.”

Another amendment “appears to remove a legal hurdle to some level of a health response. Military officials have previously said they’re unable to provide funding for health-related activities because of a statutory limitation,” the report said.

It remains possible that the water quality language could be removed before the military legislation is finalized.

“The amendments will also need to survive a reconciliation process with a bill that has already cleared the Senate. Then, each amendment would also need to receive funding in the separate appropriations bill,” the Courier Times reported.

The members of the Pennsylvania delegation are not the only ones putting their foot down of water quality.  

“We’re fed up with DoD — plain and simple,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, per the Times Herald-Record. “It is infuriating because people’s health is at risk and the water supply is at risk.”

The U.S. EPA issued a health advisory last year about exposure to perfluorinated compounds. Research has tied them to cancer.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Wastewater Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.

Image credit: "U.S. Capitol, 7 a.m." Bates College © 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: