In the News

Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher’s Bill to Protect First Responders and Environment from PFAS Passes House

Washington, January 10, 2020 | Rocio Cruz (202-657-3073)

(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) announced that her bill to protect first responders and the environment from PFAS passed the House as a part of H.R. 535, the bipartisan PFAS Action Act.  Fletcher introduced H.R. 2638 last year, which directs the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue guidance for firefighters and other first responders on how to minimize the use of PFAS in firefighting foams.  It passed the House 247-159.

“I am glad that my bill to protect our first responders and communities from PFAS has passed the House.  EPA guidance on the use of PFAS in firefighting foams can limit its exposure to the environment and protect the health of our first responders,” said Congresswoman Fletcher.  “This is a step in the right direction to minimize the risks PFAS chemicals pose.”

During the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) plant fire in Deer Park, Texas in March 2019, fire fighters used more than 130,000 gallons of foam to extinguish the flames.  High levels of PFAS were found in the water of the Houston Ship Channel and lower levels were found farther downstream, according to the Galveston Bay Foundation.

In addition to language from Fletcher’s legislation, the PFAS Action Act also does the following:

  • Designates certain groups of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances, and requires the EPA to determine whether other classes of PFAS should also be listed as hazardous chemicals;
  • Requires the EPA to set an enforceable drinking water standard for PFAS chemicals;
  • Creates a new source of funding, through the drinking water State Revolving Funds, to address emerging contaminants such as PFAS;
  • Creates a clear process to add PFAS chemicals to the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI), a centralized database of environmental releases of toxic chemicals, to help identify the sources of PFAS emissions;
  • Provides guidance on the safe disposal of various types of PFAS-containing materials;
  • Establishes a new grant program to provide financial assistance for water utilities that must install new treatment technology to remove PFAS from water supplies; and
  • Requires federal agencies to cooperate with states for the cleanup of federal facilities that are contaminated by PFAS.

You can watch the Congresswoman’s floor speech on the bill here.