Opening Remarks of Ranking Member Lamborn

Sep 15, 2020
Opening Statement
Addressing the Legacy of DOD Use of PFAS

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), ranking member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, made the following remarks, as prepared for delivery, ahead of the Subcommittee's hearing titled, "Addressing the Legacy of Department of Defense use of PFAS":

"Thank you, Chairman Garamendi. The issues associated with military use of PFAS chemicals are complicated and they often cross jurisdictional boundaries within Congress. I welcome our witnesses today and look forward to your testimony on this important issue.

"The fiscal year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act contained eleven DOD-related PFAS provisions and seven under the jurisdiction of other committees. The FY 2021 House-passed bill also has several PFAS provisions, and it is obvious that we in Congress have a bi-partisan concern about the issue. 

"Last year, Congress acted to ban DOD’s use of firefighting agents containing PFOS and PFOA by 2024 and laid out milestones to develop safer alternatives. We acted in this year’s bill to enhance the replacement effort by authorizing prizes for innovative research, requiring the Secretary of Defense to survey and report on alternative technologies to firefighting foams such as hangar flooring, and requiring increased interagency collaboration. We also passed a technical correction to ensure that the National Guard has access to the Defense Environmental Restoration account for PFAS remediation and provided almost $1.7 billion to support cleanup at DOD installations, formerly used defense sites, and locations closed under BRAC.

"Transparency regarding PFAS releases and positive testing is essential to protecting drinking water supplies and agricultural resources so that don’t we needlessly expose people or taint our food supplies. Not only is this essential to maintaining the health and readiness of military members and their families, it is also imperative to protecting the surrounding communities. In my district in Colorado, we have PFAS related issues at Peterson Air Force Base. The community of Fountain was one of the first in the nation to realize its drinking water was contaminated by firefighting foam. You can count on this subcommittee to ensure the Department continues to meet its obligations and takes steps to mitigate PFAS contamination.

"As with most major challenges, understanding the problem is a vital first step, but action is required to achieve the desired end state. CERCLA is a complicated law, and we are cognizant of the environmental specialists and scientists who work hard to address these challenges. A key aspect of remediation and removal is the management of risk—how we protect health and the environment. Every clean-up action is unique based on the type of contamination, the geology of the ground and a host of other factors. 

"With that in mind, each of these clean-up efforts also compete for a finite number of dollars in the federal budget every year so it is essential that we achieve the right balance. The Department of Defense must have the flexibility to prioritize the greatest threats to people’s health and the environment first, whether they be from PFAS or some other contaminant. We in Congress should hold them accountable if they fail to do so. 

"Thank you again to our witnesses today. Mr. Chairman, I yield back."

116th Congress