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

Fletcher’s Bill Included as Part of the PFAS Action Act

Today, Congresswoman Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07) announced that her bill to protect first responders and the environment from PFAS passed the House of Representatives as a part of H.R. 2467, the bipartisan PFAS Action Act.  The PFAS Action Act helps improve the safety of drinking water for communities across the country by preventing the contamination of wells and watersheds by these harmful chemicals.  It passed the House of Representatives today, 241-183.

Specifically, Congresswoman Fletcher’s legislation, H.R. 4381, 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.  Congresswoman Fletcher wrote her legislation following the Intercontinental Terminals Company (ITC) plant fire in Deer Park, Texas in March 2019, when firefighters 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.

“I am glad that my bill to protect our first responders and communities from PFAS passed the House of Representatives today as a part of the PFAS Action Act.  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.  “The PFAS Action Act is an important step in the right direction to minimize the risks PFAS chemicals pose across the country, and there is much work still to do.”

Known as “forever chemicals,” PFAS chemicals used in a variety of industries and applications, including in the foam used to put out chemical fires, that can lead to adverse health outcomes and can accumulate in the body for long periods of time.

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

  • Designates PFOA and PFOS, specific classes of PFAS chemicals, as hazardous substances, and requires the EPA to determine whether other classes of PFAS should also be listed as hazardous chemicals within 5 years;
  • Requires the EPA to set a national drinking water standard for PFAS chemicals;
  • Prohibits unsafe incineration of PFAS waste and places a moratorium on the introduction of new PFAS into commerce;
  • 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
  • Helps identify health risks posed by PFAS by requiring comprehensive health testing for all PFAS, reporting of PFAS releases, and monitoring for PFAS in drinking water.