Letter to the Hon. Adam Smith and the Hon. Mac Thornberry, Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee - Bipartisan Lawmakers Call for Strong PFAS Clean-up Actions in Defense Authorization Bill
Dear Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Thornberry:
As you begin crafting the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA),
we write to express our strong support for the inclusion of necessary and comprehensive cleanup provisions to address harmful per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) that continues to
contaminate military bases, surrounding communities, and our environment and drinking water
We thank you for your leadership and your efforts to include PFAS specific provisions in the
FY2020 NDAA, but significant and decisive action is still needed.
Since the enactment of last year's defense authorization, the number of confirmed PFAS
contamination sites at active or closed military instillations has increased from 401 to 651
nationwide according to a new assessment from the Department of Defense (DOD).
Environmental Working Group has also separately identified 328 military sites with known
PFAS contamination, as of April 2020.
The House took bold, bipartisan action in January to meet the PFAS contamination crisis headon by passing H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act, in a 247-159 vote. The vote included a strong
showing of support from 24 Republican members representing districts in Michigan, California,
Washington, Texas, Florida, New York, North Carolina, West Virginia, New Jersey, Arkansas,
Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Ohio.
The PFAS Action Act is a landmark bill that includes a comprehensive package of provisions led
by many of our House colleagues and assembled through regular order in the Energy and
Commerce Committee. And we continue to collectively work hard to advance and enact this
important bill. Among the many good provisions, the foundation of this bill is aimed at
accelerating PFAS contamination clean-up for the most harmful chemicals and limiting human exposure to PFAS by establishing a national drinking water standard and by limiting industrial
PFAS emissions and pollution into the air, water, and soil.
In particular, the PFAS Action Act would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) to list PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under Comprehensive Environmental
Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund Program), and to determine
whether to list other PFAS as hazardous substances within five years. In addition to PFOA and
PFOS, PFHxS, PFHpA, PFHxA, PFDA, and PFNA are commonly found at DOD installations
and pose many of the same health risks. The highest detection recorded at a DOD installation is
for PFHxS--not PFOA and PFOS--and studies suggest that PFHxS causes liver damage,
reduces the effectiveness of vaccines, and increases the risk of early menopause and
osteoporosis. PFHxS, PFBS, PFHxA, and PFNA have all been subject to specific state
limitations, and PFHpA and PFDA have included into the "Sum of PFAS" maximum
contaminant levels (MCLs) set by two states.
We urge you and every member of the House Armed Services Committee take this crisis
seriously and ensure strong provisions on PFAS clean-up are included in any final FY2021
National Defense Authorization Act. Thank you for all that you do each year to keep our na tion's
defenses strong to safeguard the American people and care for our servicemembers and their
families in all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Your attention to this important matter is appreciated and we stand ready to work with you
throughout this process to find bipartisan solutions to the critical human health and
environmental challenges PFAS contamination poses to us all.