Boyle Secures Millions in New Funding to Fight Defense-Linked Drinking Water Contamination
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last week, Congressman Brendan F. Boyle (PA-13) secured nearly $100 million in new funding for environmental restoration and health studies to support communities that are dealing with contaminated drinking water containing perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) including perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – including those surrounding the former Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Horsham, Horsham Air Guard Station, and Naval Air Warfare Center in Warminster – as a result of the Department of Defense’s decades-long use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) as a fire suppressant, which contains the chemicals. These chemical compounds have been found by a growing volume of peer-reviewed studies to be associated with serious health risks in humans, including certain types of cancers and impaired immune system performance. Highly fluorinated chemicals are found in the bodies of 98% of Americans.
The funding was included in the final Omnibus spending bill, signed into law by President Trump on Friday, after first being authorized as part of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018 and included in the House-passed Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2018 last summer after a series of hard-fought votes. In particular, the legislation includes $72 million to fund environmental restoration ($42 million for the Navy and $30 million for the Air Force), $10 million to fund a nationwide CDC health study, and $10 million to implement a new biomonitoring program. Upon becoming law, Congressman Boyle released the following statement:
“Americans have a right to clean, safe drinking water. Yet, throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania and across the country, families living near military bases and industrial sites continue to suffer health impacts and immense uncertainties as a result of water contamination associated with PFOS and PFOA,” said Congressman Boyle. “I am pleased to take the fight for this new funding over the finish line and see the President sign it into law, but this is only a first step. The need for action, answers, and funding only grows with our understanding of the scope of the issue and its potential impacts. From the DoD to the EPA, I won’t stop fighting to bring the full force of the federal government to bear.”
Ameliorating drinking water contamination has been a top priority for Congressman Boyle throughout his tenure in Congress. In June, Boyle re-introduced his bipartisan legislation, H.R. 3106, that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set an enforceable, nationwide primary drinking water standard for PFCs including PFOS and PFOA. In September, the House adopted Congressman Boyle’s amendment to provide $1.9 million additional funding for the Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR), the agency heading local medical testing and health studies in response to water contamination stemming from the use of AFFF firefighting chemicals. In November, the House passed Boyle’s amendment to authorize the additional federal spending to remediate the contamination. The package also authorized funding for a nationwide study on health effects of these chemicals, to be conducted by the CDC, and mandated a Department of Defense study and report to Congress on finding safer, effective alternatives to the firefighting foam that caused the contamination that Boyle enacted by amendment.