Democrats push bill to combat PFAS contamination



Ignoring President Donald Trump’s veto threats, House Democrats included a plan to clean up toxic per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, known as PFAS, in the next year’s Department of Defense spending bill. 

“We have a job to do. We don’t work for the president,” said Rep. Dan Kildee, a Democrat from Michigan. “This says we’re going to protect public health. This is a step in the right direction

PFAS are chemicals used in firefighting foam and flame-retardant materials. The chemicals have contaminated water supplies in 43 states, especially around U.S. military bases.

Kildee heads the bipartisan PFAS taskforce. He has pushed for new rules that would force the Department of Defense to pay for a cleanup that’s estimated to cost $2 billion, ban the use of PFAS in firefighting foam and add it to a list of chemicals eligible for EPA Superfund cleanup money.

But some Republicans say without more research, a broad PFAS ban could backfire.

“Which ones of the 5,000 chemicals are bad and which ones are good? This just says they’re all bad,” said Rep. John Shimkus, a Republican from Illinois.

Shimkus, who serves on the House Energy and Environment Committee, says the chemicals play important roles in medicine and defense.

“If you ban one class of chemicals, you take the F-16 and you ground it,” Shimkus said.

But Michigan Democrat Debbie Dingell says we can’t afford to wait for the Pentagon to clean up its mess.

“Military bases should not be saying they’re not going to do anything,” Dingell said.

The House has approved the PFAS measure, but it’s unlikely to pass the Republican-controlled Senate.

Dingell and Kildee say they hope to find common ground to fund PFAS cleanup for families at risk.

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