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Sci Tech    H4'ed 1/12/20

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barrasso: "Forever chemical' bill has 'no prospects' in Senate"

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Barrasso: Addressing PFAS Pollution is a Priority for this Committee U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW), delivered the following remarks at a hearing ...
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Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) told Bloomberg News a House bill addressing so-called "forever chemicals" has "no prospects in the Senate."

(as best as this author can deduce, I hesitantly conclude that the real issue to be resolved in unraveling this confusing tangle of legislative language, initiatives, and priorities, is that question of who is going to pay for cleaning up PFAS)

HR-535 would force EPA to set drinking water standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and require the EPA to place such chemicals on its hazardous substance list. This would mean designating contaminated location as a Superfund site, Bloomberg Environment News reported on Wednesday.

This is a serious problem in my home state of New Mexico, in which two Air Force bases, Cannon and Holloman, have seriously polluted drinking water, and have even completely destroyed several dairy farms in Eastern New Mexico. They have been linked to serious health problems by the EPA, like kidney and thyroid cancer along with high cholesterol and other illnesses. PFAS have been linked to cancer, decreased fertility, developmental delays and other conditions and have been found in high concentrations in sources of public drinking water and other sites around the country. They impede the immune system and affect infant birth weights, and disrupt thyroid function, among other harms, according to the U.S. Environmental

Protection Agency.

The chemicals got their "forever" nickname from their resistance to breaking down in the environment, and are often used in nonstick consumer goods. 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. That bill became law in December, but objections by House Energy & Commerce Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) removed language requiring an enforceable PFAS drinking-water standard.

Other Republicans expressed doubts about the bill passing the GOP-led Senate Wednesday. Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) also expressed doubts. "There's some Republican amendments that have been accepted," said Shimkus. "It's not enough to turn the tide on the vast majority of Republicans. The Superfund provision is really problematic and that's really what stopped the Senate in the final negotiation."

The White House has 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.

According to the Central Pennsylvania Star, PFAS is used in tape, nonstick pans, grease-resistant food packaging, cleaning products, fire-fighting foams, and stain- and water-repellent fabrics.

The PFAS Action Act includes a series of provisions designed to mitigate their harm. It cleared the House with support from 223 Democrats and 24 Republicans. One hundred and fifty seven Republicans voted against it, as did one Democrat and Michigan independent Rep. Justin Amash. Twenty-four lawmakers did not vote.

Republican Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District is the co-chair of a House task force on the issue, and has been an outspoken voice for accountability from Washington. Fitzpatrick's brother, former GOP

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, 56, died Monday after a battle with cancer.

Michigan Democratic Rep. Debbie Dingell the bill's lead sponsor called the chemicals an "urgent public health and environmental threat."

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