Tuesday, the White House indicated that it would veto the PFAS Action Act of 2019 legislation designed to keep harmful chemicals out of groundwater should it pass through the House and the Senate.
Sponsored by Michigan Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, the act is designed to reduce involuntary human exposure to PFAS, which are chemicals used in products like non-stick cookware and flame retardant foams. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they are not expelled from the human body once they are ingested. Traces of PFAS, which have been linked to the formation of certain kinds of cancer, have been found in multiple sources of drinking water across the country.
“PFAS is a clear threat to human health and our environment,” wrote Dingell in a November 2019 statement.
“The reality is a lot of contamination is connected to military sites and the Defense Department,” Dingell’s statement continued. “We are continuing to champion strong provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act to identify PFAS as a hazardous substance for the purpose of clean up under the EPA’s Superfund program and facilitate coordinated response between local communities and the military.”
But the Trump administration “strongly opposes” the passage of the act because it would not be cost-effective.
In a statement Tuesday, the Executive Office of the President said the bill would “supersede existing statutory requirements” that would prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from making proper decisions about the treatment of PFAS in the environment.
“By doing so,” the statement read, “the bill would create considerable litigation risk, set problematic and unreasonable rulemaking timelines and precedents, and impose substantial, unwarranted costs on Federal, State, and local agencies and other key stakeholders in both the public and private sectors.”
According to the White House, the bill would also “require the Administration to bypass well-established processes, procedures, and legal requirements of the Nation’s most fundamental environmental laws,” including the Clean Air Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.
“By truncating the rulemaking process,” the White House’s statement continued, “this legislation risks undermining public confidence in the EPA’s decisions, and also risks the imposition of unnecessary costs on States, public water systems, and others responsible for complying with its prescriptive mandates.”
If the bill were “presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill,” the statement concluded.
Newsweek reached out to the White House for further comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Drinking water in Michigan, North Carolina and other states have been found to contain PFAS, as have military bases. A Department of Defense report released in March 2018 stated that over 1,600 military installations had groundwater wells that tested positive for PFAS over the safety limit established by the EPA.
As previously reported by Newsweek, drinking water at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey has also tested positive for PFAS, with levels twice as high as what the EPA considers to be safe.