Bennet Introduces Amendment To Reimburse Water Districts for PFAS Contamination Cleanup

Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today introduced an amendment to this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to authorize the U.S. Air Force to reimburse local water districts, like those around Peterson Air Force Base, for actions they took to treat and mitigate PFAS contamination in drinking water.

“In the wake of contamination, local water districts around Peterson Air Force Base took the initiative and covered the cleanup costs to ensure the safety of drinking water for residents,” said Bennet. “This amendment will ensure these districts receive the full reimbursement they deserve.”

Earlier this year, Bennet and 13 of his Senate colleagues introduced the PFAS Action Plan of 2019 to mandate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances after the EPA released a plan in which the agency committed to designating PFOA and PFOS chemicals, two specific PFAS chemicals, as “hazardous substances,” but did not identify the available statutory mechanism it would use, nor how long the designation process would take to complete.

For the last two years, Bennet has worked to address the health effects, cleanup, and reimbursement issues associated with PFAS, chemicals used in firefighting foams that have contaminated drinking water sources near military bases across the country.

In 2017:

  • Bennet pushed for a nationwide study on the health effects of PFAS and for additional funding for remediation and clean up.
  • Bennet secured $10 million for the nationwide Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study in the 2018 omnibus package.
  • Bennet secured an additional $44 million in funding for Air Force environmental restoration and remediation in the 2018 omnibus package. A significant amount of that funding was used for remediation around Peterson AFB in Colorado.
  • Bennet supported a provision in the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that required a plan on how the Department of Defense might reimburse state or municipal agencies that expended funds to provide alternative water supplies.

In 2018:

  • Bennet wrote to the CDC to ask that the nationwide study include communities in Colorado near Peterson AFB.
  • Bennet visited communities around Peterson Air Force Base to receive an update on remediation efforts. There, Bennet also received an update on the challenges water districts are having receiving reimbursement for steps they took to clean up drinking water.
  • Bennet demanded the Trump administration (CDC and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) release the results of a study regarding what levels of certain chemicals are safe in drinking water. According to news reports at the time, the EPA had been working to block the release of results from a Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) study on the toxicity of certain PFAS.
  • Bennet passed an amendment to provide funding for the Department of Defense to reimburse state and municipal water authorities for actions they took to clean up and mitigate PFAS in drinking water. The amendment was included in the Department of Defense-Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill, which passed the Senate in 2018. The provision was not included in the final version of the bill that was signed into law.
  • Bennet wrote to the CDC/ASTDR to voice disappointment that the CDC will not include military and civilian firefighters in its investigations of the human health effects of  PFAS contamination pursuant to Section 316 of the FY19 NDAA.