All Democratic Members of Environment Subcommittee Express Disappointment after PFAS Provisions are Removed from NDAA
Washington, D.C. (Dec. 11, 2019)—Today, Rep. Harley Rouda, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Environment, led all Democratic Members of his Subcommittee in a statement expressing disappointment with the Senate Republicans’ decision to remove provisions from the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report that would have designated per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous, set maximum contaminant levels for these toxic chemicals in drinking water, and reduced ongoing industrial releases into the environment:
“We are profoundly disappointed that this bill will not include critical provisions for PFAS chemicals, despite bipartisan agreement that Congress must take action or the health of all Americans will continue to suffer. The House passed several provisions to the NDAA to protect Americans from these ‘forever chemicals’, but Senate Republicans refused to negotiate on any comprehensive solutions that would have cleaned up toxic sites, set safeguards before releasing PFAS into water supplies, or put in place drinking water standards to protect pregnant women, children, and the elderly. In the words of our late Chairman Elijah E. Cummings: we are better than this.
“Every single American has a right to clean water, and anyone who violates that right must be held accountable. Our constituents are pleading with us to implement changes to ensure they are protected from these toxic chemicals.
“Despite this setback, our Subcommittee will continue to fight for the health and safety of all Americans, and we support Majority Leader Hoyer’s decision to bring the PFAS Action Act to the floor in January.”
KEY WITNESS TESTIMONIES:
The Oversight and Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on the Environment has been leading the charge in the House of Representatives to push for essential government regulation of PFAS chemicals and ensure that manufacturers are held accountable for their role in this contamination crisis. Throughout their ten-month investigation, the Subcommittee has pressed chemical companies on their efforts to conceal the health risks of PFAS and heard from those personally impacted by the serious health effects of contamination:
- “Our well was in our front yard, 25 feet from the Navy’s property and fire training area. … We not only drank contaminated well water, we brushed our teeth in it, we swam in it in our pool, and we showered in it. But most sickening was that my mother fed us baby formula mixed with this toxic water as infants. I was one of six children in my family being poisoned unknowingly.” – Hope Grosse, Warminster, PA
- “Now, because the entire situation is at a standstill, I am forced to simply continue to grieve without closure. … I am brought back to the fact that my husband died suddenly and painfully due to water contamination, potentially for decades, that progressively damaged his liver. It’s like a bad dream that you can’t wake from, and you are forced to stay grieving day after day after day.” – Sandy Wynn-Stelt, Belmont, MI
- “Scientists concluded that my children would have a 50% chance of having the same deformities that I had. Being newlywed, it nearly destroyed all hopes I had of building a family with my wife. I knew there was no way I could subject my children to the looks and ridicule, years of medical procedures, and other battles I faced that I knew they would encounter.” – Bucky Bailey, Parkersburg, WV
- “My friend, Tom … has terminal brain and bone cancer, and my friend, Cara, has stage three breast cancer; her gall bladder stopped working and she recently developed hypothyroidism, and her mom has blood cancer and her dad has leukemia and bladder cancer. And my own husband had a benign brain tumor and almost lost his eyesight, and I am frightened.” – Emily Donovan, Fayetteville, NC
The Subcommittee has also heard key testimony from federal regulators and major chemical companies which underscored the urgency to act in order to regulate and clean up these dangerous, toxic chemicals.
David Ross, the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water at the Environmental Protection Agency, testified at a hearing and agreed with the Subcommittee that PFAS contamination is a “national emergency.”
A major chemical company, DuPont de Nemours, Inc., testified before the Subcommittee that it supports regulation of the two most notorious types of PFAS chemicals, PFOA and PFOS.