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PFAS provisions included in new national defense bill

PFAS foam on the Huron River.
Lester Graham
Michigan Radio

Congress has reached a final agreement on the annual national defense bill, the National Defense Authorization Act. This year’s bill includes a number of provisions to regulate the chemical family PFAS.

Provisions to regulate PFAS include the following:

  • A plan to phase out firefighting foams that use PFAS on military bases. By 2023, the Department of Defense will no longer procure any of these chemicals, and they will be completely phased out of use by 2024. A more immediate provision prohibits military bases from using these kinds of foams in training settings as well.

  • A plan that requires the Department of Defense to work with states to create PFAS remediation plan within a year. If states and the DOD cannot reach an agreement by then, they have to report back to Congress.

  • Using advanced computing and an expanded research and development budget to better map and model PFAS throughout the country

  • Agricultural lands and farmers can be compensated for loss of value of their land due to PFAS contamination.

Michigan has the largest amount of PFAS-contaminated sites: over 200. Democratic senator Gary Peters thinks that may be in part because the state has been actively investigating and looking for those sites. He says that senators from other states are starting to realize that PFAS is not just a Michigan problem, and that helped them secure these provisions in the bill.

“We know from Oscoda and the former Wurtsmith air force base and other places around Michigan that the cost of cleaning up this contamination is very high, certainly the human cost. First and foremost, that people are exposed to these chemicals, but then when you try to clean it up, it is not cheap.”

Elissa Slotkin is a Democratic representative from Michigan’s 8th district and is on the House Armed Services Committee. She says this bill is the start of holding the DOD responsible for PFAS contamination.

“While we didn’t get everything we wanted related to PFAS, this is the first time the Pentagon has been required to do anything more than just “study” PFAS, and that is a step in the right direction.”

Peters says the delegation team was unable to get the Environmental Protection Agency to establish national drinking water regulations or get them to designate PFAS/PFOA as hazardous in drinking water due to pushback from Trump administration.

Caroline is a third year history major at the University of Michigan. She also works at The Michigan Daily, where she has been a copy editor and an opinion columnist. When she’s not at work, you can find her down at Argo Pond as a coxswain for the Michigan men’s rowing team. Caroline loves swimming, going for walks, being outdoors, cooking, trivia, and spending time with her two-year-old cat, Pepper.
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