US sefense policy bill would require ‘forever chemical’ testing sites

WASHINGTON DC (Agencies): The National Defense Act Authorization passed by the House on Thursday night would require the Pentagon to factor in extreme weather risks and publish studies on a class of toxic “forever chemicals.”

The NDAA would create a two-year deadline for the Pentagon to finish testing at Defense Department and National Guard installations for the chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). In cases where state PFAS cleanup standards are stricter than federal rules, the Pentagon would be required to follow the tougher rules.

The annual defense policy bill also requires the Defense Department to publish all PFAS testing results for drinking and groundwater on or near former and current military installations and report on the cleanup status at 50 PFAS sites.

Earlier this month, the Environmental Protection Agency announced its first proposed limits on the amounts of PFAS that can be discharged from facilities where they are manufactured. The chemicals have been linked to a number of health problems, including immunodeficiencies and certain cancers.

The NDAA for 2022 was passed in a 316-113 vote, with 38 Democrats and 75 Republicans opposing the $778 billion measure.

Climate provisions in the NDAA would mandate that the Pentagon factor extreme weather risks into Defense Department planning and allow the use of certain Pentagon funds to be used toward improving defense infrastructure’s resilience. In the past year, the U.S. has experienced massive heatwaves across western states over the summer and winter weather in Texas that knocked out the state’s self-contained grid. The Biden administration has emphasized the national security and defense implications of climate change. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday said that “climate change is making things less peaceful, less secure, and rendering our response even more challenging,” citing its role in conflicts in nations such as Ethiopia, Mali and Syria. The United Nations issued a similar warning in 2020.

Top climate summit official on reconciliation bill: It’s important to ‘show progress’: Asked Friday whether it is important for Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending bill to cross the finish line ahead of a major climate summit this November, the conference’s top official says the U.S. needs to show it has made progress on the issue.

“Whether it’s the U.S. or any other country, being a-ble to show progress dom-estically, is of cours-e…going to be important in terms of them encouraging others to do the same,” Alok Sharma, the president of the COP26 UN climate change conference, told reporters. Sharma added that he believes there is “a real will and a real desire to get this thing done.” He also praised President Biden’s recent announcement that the U.S. would seek to double its climate funding for developing countries. “I think it matters because he’s delivering on a promise that was made back in 2009 to developing nations and this $100 billion figure has become a matter of trust,” Sharma said, referring to the amo-unt that more developed countries had pledged. “Tr-ust at any time is pretty fra-gile, and I think this helps in terms of rebuilding that trust,” he added. His comments come weeks before the conference in Glasgow, Scotland, where countries will negotiate climate action. The Biden administration has sought to be a world leader on climate. But the U.S. faces questions about its credibility, particularly in the wake of then-President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the global Paris agreement, which Biden later rejoined.

Sharma’s also said that the conference’s success c-omes down to whether cou-ntries can “credibly” say they’ll keep within reach the possibility of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

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