December 10, 2019

Gillibrand Announces Her Legislation To Identify Where Pfas Chemicals Are Released Into The Environment Included In Final National Defense Authorization Act, Vows To Continue To Fight To Regulate And Clean Up Chemicals In Drinking Water

Gillibrand Co-Authored and Fought to Pass Critical Provisions to Protect Public Health; PFAS Are A Toxic Group of Chemicals That Are Pervasive in the Environment and Linked to Serious Health Problems in Communities Surrounding Military Bases and Industrial Facilities in New York and Across the Country

Washington, DC – Following her successful push, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that the PFAS Release Disclosure Act, her bipartisan legislation to identify where per- and polyfuluroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals are released into the environment was included in the conferenced FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The final, conferenced NDAA is expected to be put to a vote by Congress in coming days. The conferenced NDAA also includes a provision she pushed for that will end the use of firefighting foam containing PFAS at military installations. Additionally, Gillibrand vowed to continue to fight to pass other critical PFAS legislation that was left out of the conferenced NDAA, including her legislation to regulate PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act, and legislation that would list PFAS chemicals as toxic substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, which would help provide funding to clean up contaminated sites through the federal Superfund program. 

“PFAS contamination is putting the health of millions of Americans at risk, and we must do everything we can to help ensure families in New York and across the country aren’t exposed to dangerous levels of PFAS in their drinking water,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The legislation I fought to include in the conferenced NDAA would make more information about PFAS chemicals available to the public and lawmakers as we work to address this widespread public health crisis and end the use of PFAS foam on military airports and bases. But this is not enough. Congress must finish the job and pass other critical legislation to regulate and clean up PFAS chemicals, and I will continue to fight to get those bills over the finish line.”

Gillibrand fought to include provisions that would protect communities from toxic PFAS exposure in the conferenced NDAA. The first of her provisions included is her bipartisan bill, the PFAS Release Disclosure Act, that would identify and publicly share the sources of PFAS emissions. Specifically, it would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create a clear process to add PFAS chemicals, including perfluoroctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) – two of the most pervasive PFAS chemicals with scientifically demonstrated health effects – to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), a centralized database of environmental releases of toxic chemicals. This would improve the availability of information related to the emissions of PFAS and help identify the potential sources of PFAS emissions in the environment. The second provision is an amendment she co-sponsored that would prohibit the Department of Defense from procuring firefighting foam that contains PFAS.

A third Gillibrand provision, based on the Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act, her bipartisan bill with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), was included in the NDAA passed by the United States Senate but stripped out of the conferenced NDAA with the House of Representatives. This legislation would require the EPA to set a national primary drinking water regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act within two years. Currently, there is no legally enforceable limit to the amount of PFAS in public drinking water under the Safe Drinking Water Act.