Energy & Environment

Lawmakers push for inclusion of ‘forever chemical’ regulation in future stimulus bill

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A group of more than 80 members of Congress is pushing for the inclusion of provisions to regulate a class of cancer-linked chemicals in future stimulus legislation dealing with infrastructure.

The chemicals, known as PFAS, are also sometimes called “forever chemicals” because of their persistence in both the environment and the human body. They can be found in a variety of products including raincoats, cookware and firefighting foam. 

In a Monday letter to leaders of the chamber’s Transportation Committee, the bipartisan lawmakers specifically pushed for future legislation to include measures from a bill that had passed the House in January

“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,” said the letter, which was led by Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.). 

The legislation passed by the House earlier this year would require the Environmental Protection Agency to set a mandatory drinking water standard for PFAS and require it to be covered by a hazardous waste cleanup law. It also set a five-year moratorium on the development of new PFAS chemicals. 

Opponents have argued that the legislation is too sweeping, and that it makes little distinction between the more than 6,000 forms of PFAS. They also say it opens up too many parties to liability.

Senate Republicans said earlier this year that such a bill would be dead on arrival and have “no prospects” in the upper chamber. 

Separately, senators announced a water infrastructure package last week that would authorize $300 million in grants to help deal with contaminants such as PFAS.

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