Carper: Defense Bill PFAS Measures Represent a Missed Opportunity

Upon release of defense bill text, Senator Carper reiterates his criticism of removal of Superfund designation, drinking water standard

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works Committee, reiterated his strong rebuke of the failure to include bipartisan, broadly supported measures to address PFAS contamination in communities throughout America, including hundreds of communities in or near military bases in the Defense Authorization bill.

“A majority of members in both the House and the Senate support the designation of all 4,000 PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances under the Superfund law. But a much more modest measure – one that would provide a path to designate just two PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances, ensuring cleanup at federally contaminated sites and in communities across the country – was unable to be included in the Conference Report. It should be lost on no one that both former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler have said they would make that designation for those same two PFAS chemicals,” said Senator Carper, who is also a 23-year veteran of the U.S. Navy and the only Vietnam veteran currently serving in the U.S. Senate.

“Moreover, removal of a bipartisan Senate measure that would have set a drinking water standard for harmful PFAS – a measure that passed the Senate unanimously – will leave unprotected millions of Americans whose drinking water is currently contaminated,” Carper continued, “It is hard to understand how the joint House-Senate negotiation managed to yield less protective PFAS measures than were in both chamber’s bills.  Despite having the support of hundreds of Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle and from all parts of the country, key PFAS provisions were either weakened or removed entirely from the final conference report. Instead of seizing the clear opportunity to get these important provisions across the finish line, Congress has managed to seize defeat from the jaws of victory.”

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), PFAS has been detected in the drinking water of 19 million Americans across 49 states. Nationwide, EWG data from September shows that there are nearly 300 military installations with known contamination, including two in Delaware at Dover Air Force Base and New Castle Air National Guard Base.