May 24, 2019

Gillibrand-Shaheen Amendment to Ban PFAS Chemicals in Firefighting Foam Used On Military Bases Passes Senate Armed Services Committee as Part of Annual Defense Bill

Gillibrand, One of the Leaders in the Senate Fighting to Protect Communities From PFAS Exposure, Co-Authored and Fought to Pass Critical Measure 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 in New York and Across the Country

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today announced that a provision she cosponsored to prohibit the Department of Defense from procuring firefighting foam that contains per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) passed the Senate Armed Services Committee as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Gillibrand, who serves as ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Personnel and is also a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has been a leader in the Senate on combatting PFAS contamination in New York and across the country.

“Toxic PFAS exposure is putting the health of New Yorkers and people across the country at risk,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Last year I successfully fought to end the federal requirement for commercial airports to use PFAS firefighting foam, and it’s time for the DOD to do the same and end the use of PFAS foam on military airports and bases. In communities in New York and across the country, there is a clear link between the use of PFAS firefighting foam on military bases and dangerous levels of PFAS in the drinking water of surrounding communities. This is unacceptable and Congress has an obligation to ensure the DOD is no longer buying and using this toxic foam. All Americans deserve clean water, and I will fight to ensure this critical measure passes the Senate as part of the final defense bill.”

This amendment was also sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Specifically, the measure would prohibit DOD from procuring firefighting foam with PFAS after October 1, 2022.

Last week, Gillibrand introduced two new bipartisan bills that would combat PFAS contamination. The first piece of legislation, with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), would require the EPA to set an enforceable drinking water standard for toxic PFAS chemicals. The other bill, with Senators Capito and Tom Carper (D-DE), would identify and publicly share sources of PFAS emissions in New York and across the country. In March, Gillibrand grilled federal officials on the health risks of PFAS during a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing, citing the devastating health concerns for New York residents in communities contaminated with PFAS such as Hoosick Falls and those surrounding Stewart and Gabreski Air National Guard Bases. Gillibrand helped secure $10 million in federal funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct a nationwide study on PFAS health effects and also helped secure $20 million for PFAS cleanup in the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense-Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Act to communities that have suffered from PFAS contamination as a result of activity from the U.S. Air Force and Air National Guard. She also led the push demanding that the Trump Administration release the Department of Health and Human Services study it was trying to keep secret that revealed PFAS poses a danger to human health at lower levels than the EPA was telling the public.