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Senator Warren joins Senators Shaheen, Rounds to Send Bipartisan Letter Pushing for Increased Action from Pentagon to Address PFAS Exposure at Military Installations

Government and Politics

September 23, 2022


Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) in sending a bipartisan letter to Department of Defense (DoD) Secretary Lloyd Austin and White House officials, urging increased funding for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) testing and remediation, and to improve PFAS-related planning to make use of the higher funding levels Congress is willing to appropriate to address the pervasive issue.  

The Senators wrote, in part, “As you know, PFAS chemicals have emerged as widespread contaminants to the drinking water sources of military bases across the country largely due to their presence in aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) used by the military. Members of the military, veterans and civilians who have served at military installations and/or live in the surrounding communities found to have been contaminated with PFAS face health risks related to exposure to PFAS chemicals, as these materials are found in AFFF, in personal protective equipment used by firefighters and in standard consumer products.”

The Senators went on to detail the findings of a recent National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine report that calls for expanded access to PFAS testing for Americans with a history of exposure to the chemicals and points to health risks such as high cholesterol, decreased fetal and infant growth and increased risks of kidney cancer for those exposed to PFAS. The Senators then continued to detail the robust amount of federal dollars provided by Congress to DoD to accelerate PFAS testing remediation and Congress’ continued willingness to provide additional resources to address the challenges the Department faces due to PFAS exposure.

They closed their letter by urging the administration to put greater emphasis on addressing these pollutants. The Senators wrote, “Our service members, military families, veterans and defense communities deserve the Department’s full attention to appropriately address the scope and severity of PFAS contamination. We ask you to honor that responsibility and take the steps necessary to prioritize this hazard impacting our communities.”

Responding to PFAS contaminants in Massachusetts communities has been a top priority for Senator Warren:

    In February 2022, Senator Warren joined Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and 30 other senators in a bipartisan letter urging President Biden to prioritize robust funding to combat per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the fiscal year (FY) 2023 budget request to Congress.

    In December 2021, Senator Warren joined Senators Shaheen and Murkowski, along with a group of 19 senators, in sending a letter to the Department of Defense (DOD), in response to the DOD’s Inspector General report on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) exposure mitigation and prevention at DOD installations.

    In November 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Representative Kildee (D-Mich.), along with a group of 18 senators and 25 representatives, in sending a letter to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) urging the agency to ensure airports are able to use PFAS-free firefighting foam.

    In October 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Gillibrand, along with a group of 16 senators, in sending a letter to the EPA to expand and strengthen regulatory efforts to address industrial PFAS discharges, specifically through the EPA’s PFAS roadmap plan.

    In March 2021, Senator Warren joined Senator Gillibrand as a cosponsor of the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act of 2021.

    In February 2020, Senator Warren sent a letter with her Senate colleagues calling on the EPA to deliver on promises it made on its PFAS Action Plan.

    In December 2019, Senator Warren introduced the Affordable Safe Drinking Water Act, a bicameral bill that would provide Massachusetts and other states with more tools to mitigate water infrastructure costs to deliver water free from PFAS chemicals and lead.

    On March 20, 2019, Senator Warren joined Senators Shaheen and Hassan, along with a group of 15 senators, in sending a letter to then-Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan and EPA Administrator Wheeler, requesting that the agencies release communications with the White House, and interagency communications, regarding the establishment of federal drinking water standards for PFAS and groundwater pollution guidelines related to these chemicals.

    In March 2019, Senator Warren joined Senator Carper (D-Del.) as a cosponsor of the PFAS Action Act of 2019.

    In February 2019, Senator Warren joined Senators Shaheen and Capito (R-W.V) in sending a letter to then-Acting EPA Administrator Wheeler, expressing concern about reports that the agency would not establish enforceable drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS as part of its National PFAS Management Plan.

    In August 2018, Senator Warren filed two amendments to the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, one of which would require the CDC to conduct a study on the health implications of PFAS exposure for firefighters, police officers, and first responders.

Text of Letter (PDF)