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Senate letter urges Biden to address PFAS exposure on military installations

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U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ethan Sherwood

Forty U.S. senators signed a bipartisan letter to Department of Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House officials urging increased funding for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) testing and remediation. The letter underscored the urgent need to treat contamination on military installations, where PFAS-containing fire foam and other potential contaminants have been used for decades. Nationwide, the Department of Defense estimates nearly 700 installations may have PFAS exposure.

The letter states that Congress is willing to increase funding to address such a large problem. Over the past six years, Congress has increased funding by $1 billion for the Department to accelerate PFAS testing and remediation, more than doubling the amount requested in the annual budget request during that time frame.

“As evidenced by the historic $517 million authorization for PFAS-related activities included in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022, Congress has indicated a willingness to provide even greater funding to address these challenges,” the senators wrote. “We are, however, concerned the DoD has failed to adequately prepare for additional funding to be made available … DoD is not sufficiently prioritizing PFAS testing, remediation and disposal as part of its annual budget process, nor is the Department adequately developing the appropriate plans to utilize even higher funding levels as provided by Congress.”

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) led the bipartisan effort. Read a full copy of the letter here.

“We encourage you to provide detailed funding plans for a broad range of agencies and programs in your budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2023 to address the scale and scope of the challenges presented by PFAS,” the Sentators state. “Specifically, we ask that your budget request include dedicated funding to close gaps in data and research to better inform responses and drive innovation. Second, we urge prioritization of regulatory work necessary to enhance protections for public health and the environment. Finally, we encourage robust funding to support ongoing testing and cleanup of existing contamination nationwide.”

By Austin Keating editor of Remediation Technology

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