Inhofe and others wrestle with PFAS contamination issue

While Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe and others on the Senate Armed Services Committee work on a new defense budget, one of their challenges continues to be PFAS chemical contamination on military bases across the nation.

POLITICO’s Morning Energy Report said this week a new memo from the Defense Department ignores EPA guidance relating to the cleanup of groundwater contaminated with toxic PFAS chemicals and calls for setting a screening level that is 10 times higher than that recommended by EPA earlier this year.

The memo, obtained by Pennsylvania newspaper The Intelligencer, sets a screening level of 400 parts per trillion for the chemicals PFOA and PFOS — far lower than the 40 part per trillion screening level recommended by EPA in draft cleanup guidance issued this spring. The memo calls for the lower level at sites where multiple PFAS are found.

Recall: The EPA guidance was stalled for months in interagency review, and was significantly weakened by the Defense Department and White House before it was released. That document has not been finalized and wouldn’t be legally binding even if it was.

The new revelations come as the House and Senate remain locked in battle over PFAS provisions in the annual defense bill, many of which are targeted at prodding the DoD into cleaning up the chemicals more fully and aggressively. House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith said Tuesday that he hasn’t heard back from his Senate counterpart, Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) on the latest offer he made 10 days ago.