Pappas Leads Bipartisan Group of 83 Lawmakers in Calling for PFAS Action in Upcoming Stimulus Legislation

April 27, 2020
Press Release

Today, Congressman Chris Pappas (NH-01) led 83 lawmakers in a bipartisan letter urging House leaders to address the devastating impacts of industrial PFAS discharge through the infrastructure component of future economic stimulus legislation. Pappas continues to call for increased investments in our nation’s infrastructure that will support our economic recovery as well as the health and safety of local communities.

The letter, sent to House Transportation and Infrastructure leadership, specifically requests that any infrastructure legislation include the language of the Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which Pappas authored earlier this year. His bill would require EPA to review PFAS discharges under the Clean Water Act and issue regulations to address harmful discharges of PFAS into our nation’s waterways. The legislation also requires EPA to hold polluters accountable by ensuring that they are not transmitting PFAS directly into publicly-owned treatment works. 

“The long-term economic dislocation caused by this pandemic will require significant action by Congress, and we believe infrastructure should be a focus of future legislation as we seek to rebuild our country's economy and put people back to work. As you look at addressing water infrastructure as part of any future package, we urge you to include provisions of H.R. 535 to restrict industrial releases of PFAS,” wrote the lawmakers. “As we emerge from this crisis, we must ensure that communities can focus their resources where they are needed most.  These provisions will hold those who discharge PFAS responsible for those discharges and ensure that communities are not left to clean up pollution they did not cause.”

You can read the full text of the letter HERE or  below: 

Dear Chair DeFazio, Chair Napolitano, Republican Leader Graves, and Ranking Member Westerman,

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds across the United States, it is crucial that we continue to focus on addressing our nation's most immediate needs, from supporting response efforts and our health care system to keeping our workers, families, and small businesses safe and secure. The long-term economic dislocation caused by this pandemic will require significant action by Congress, and we believe infrastructure should be a focus of future legislation as we seek to rebuild our country's economy and put people back to work. As you look at addressing water infrastructure as part of any future package, we urge you to include provisions of H.R. 535 to restrict industrial releases of PFAS.

According to independent analysis, hundreds of industrial facilities are likely discharging PFAS directly into waterways or indirectly discharging PFAS to a Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW) or wastewater treatment facility through their wastewater. In many communities, industrial discharges of PFAS are the most significant source of PFAS pollution entering drinking water supplies. Because there is no requirement that manufacturers or industrial users of PFAS pretreat their waste before they send PFAS to a POTW, PFAS is also contaminating municipal biosolids applied to farm fields. 

In January, the House passed the PFAS Action Act (H.R. 535), which would, among other things, establish deadlines for EPA to determine how to regulate industrial discharges of PFAS under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Specifically, the CWA provisions in H.R. 535 would:

  • Require EPA to establish effluent limitation and pretreatment standards for PFAS for priority industry categories like chemical companies and textile mills within four years;
  • Ensure priority industries receive a CWA permit before discharging PFAS;
  • Ensure priority industries pretreat their PFAS waste before sending PFAS to a POTW;
  • Prohibit indirect discharges of industrial PFAS into POTWs without advance notice;
  • Require EPA to review sources of PFAS and use that information to set water quality limits within two years;
  • Provide $500 million in grants to POTWs to implement pretreatment standards for PFAS.

Similar provisions were included in the “Moving Forward” framework released in January. Specifically, the framework called for “establishing a new EPA program to detect, prevent, and treat discharge of PFAS as well as provide funding to local communities dealing with PFAS contamination in drinking water.” 

As we emerge from this crisis, we must ensure that communities can focus their resources where they are needed most.  These provisions will hold those who discharge PFAS responsible for those discharges and ensure that communities are not left to clean up pollution they did not cause.

Thank you for your consideration of this request.