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What They Are Saying: House Democrats’ Partisan PFAS Bill DOA in the Senate


01.09.20

WASHINGTON, DC – What do firefighting foam, cell phones, medical devices, Kevlar, and solar panels have in common? They all contain chemicals. To be specific, they contain perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances—or PFAS. This chemical is resistant to heat, oils, stains, grease, and water – making them very important to the above products.

E&C Republicans agree that we must protect public health and the environment from the challenges that PFAS can present, but the legislation the House of Representatives is considering this week—H.R. 535, the PFAS Action Act of 2019—is not the solution. This purely partisan, anti-science regulatory framework is unworkable. It’s unfortunate Democrats have begun 2020 with more of the same nonsense from last year: putting politics over progress.

There is a path ahead; we have broad, bipartisan, commonsense solutions—that relies on sound science—to address the country’s PFAS challenges. Since when are Democrats against science? Furthermore, Democrats moved a $47 billion bill just this morning on electric vehicles. Guess what’s in electric vehicles? Lithium batteries, and they contain PFAS. The hypocrisy is rich.

Here’s what they are saying about PFAS:

Bloomberg Environment: House PFAS Bill Has ‘No Prospects’ in Senate, Barrasso Says

A far-reaching House bill that would force the federal government to address PFAS contamination has little hope of becoming law in its current form, according to the chairman of the Senate’s environment committee.

“It has no prospects in the Senate,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told Bloomberg Environment. “None.”

Bloomberg Environment: Broad-Ranging PFAS Chemicals Bill on House Floor Next Week

Mike Danylak, spokesman for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Republican majority, noted the Senate already passed legislation to address PFAS contamination through defense funding authorization and government funding bills in 2019.

“President Trump just signed the bipartisan Senate PFAS package, minus the drinking water provisions the House Democrats killed, into law. Whatever the House is now planning to do on PFAS, it has little to do with making law,” Danylak said in an email.

The Hill: Top Republican: ‘Forever chemical’ bill has ‘no prospects’ in Senate

Barrasso said he specifically objected to the bill’s Superfund provisions, which he said go “way beyond” a bipartisan PFAS-related bill his Senate committee passed over the summer as an amendment to a defense spending bill.

The bill ultimately became law in December, but by that point language requiring an enforceable PFAS drinking-water standard had been removed due to objections by House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.).

“We’re back now with a partisan bill that stands no chance,” Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) told reporters.

The White House has also threatened to veto the House bill, saying it would constrain the EPA from keeping up to date on the latest scientific understanding of the chemicals.

Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy: PFAS VETO THREAT

The White House isn’t a fan of legislation the House is considering this week dealing with “forever chemicals,” or per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

The legislation would “supersede” the Environmental Protection Agency’s existing requirements under the law to deal with chemicals like PFAS, the White House said in a statement of administration policy late Tuesday. The administration added the bill would “create considerable litigation risk, set problematic and unreasonable rulemaking timelines and precedents, and impose substantial, unwarranted costs” for the public and private sectors.

The veto threat suggests the Democratic-led PFAS bill could largely amount to a messaging bill. House Republican energy leaders have also criticized the bill, saying Democrats made it a partisan grab-bag of legislative efforts that go too far.

Washington Examiner, Daily on Energy: HOUSE GOP WARNS AGAINST DEMOCRATIC PLANS FOR REGULATING ‘FOREVER CHEMICALS’

House Republican energy leaders, though, say the bill goes too far and could actually threaten the EPA’s ability to deal with the substances. The EPA is working through its own “Action Plan” for PFAS, though it hasn’t issued any regulations yet.

“[W]e want cleanup and we want it sooner rather than later,” wrote Congressman John Shimkus of Illinois, the top Republican on the House Energy and Commerce environment subcommittee. But he said Republicans are skeptical that classifying PFAS has hazardous under Superfund is “the magic bullet for this problem and may create more problems than meets the eye.”

Shimkus, in a detailed dissent in the legislation’s report, also raised concerns that the agency hasn’t testified before lawmakers about how it would implement provisions of the PFAS bill.

Republicans were willing to compromise: But House Democrats rejected a compromise offer, Shimkus said.

That compromise proposal even included some provisions that were tougher to swallow for Republicans, such as a requirement for the EPA to set a drinking water standard for PFAS contamination within two years.

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