| PFAS funding bill passes house with bipartisan support
HARRISBURG—A unified group of Republican House members from Montgomery and Bucks counties led the effort to pass legislation by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) to address ongoing public water and environmental remediation costs from PFAS contamination, and to ensure area residents have clean drinking water.
“Bucks County Reps. Meghan Schroeder and Todd Polinchock, whose communities are also directly impacted by PFAS contamination of drinking water, along with our other colleagues from Bucks and Montgomery counties, fought hard to persuade both Republicans and Democrats from all across the Commonwealth to back this plan to fund efforts to remove PFAS from drinking water,” Stephens said.
Despite the fact the federal government is responsible for the contamination, local ratepayers and taxpayers have been bearing the costs to remove these harmful contaminants from our public drinking water. Stephens’ House Bill 1410 creates a way to fund the cleaning of our water while finding a productive use for the former air station property.
While Southeast Pennsylvania has been dealing with PFAS drinking water contamination for years, many House members were unfamiliar with the issue. Despite support from statewide environmental groups like Clean Water Action, PennFuture and Penn Environment, House members needed to be informed of the severity of the issue.
“We met member by member not only to describe the severity of the situation but how this legislation could be modeled by other areas of the state facing the PFAS issue,” Rep. Todd Polinchock (R-Bucks) said.
“I am grateful that other members of the House recognized that this was not only an issue that impacts the Southeast, but other areas of the Commonwealth as well,” Schroeder said.
Stephens, Schroeder and Polinchock were joined by Reps. Gene DiGirolamo (R-Bucks), Wendi Thomas (R-Bucks), Frank Farry (R-Bucks), Craig Staats (R-Bucks), Marcy Toepel (R-Montgomery), Tom Murt (R-Montgomery), and Rep. Martina White (R-Philadelphia) in advocating for the bill.
“I was proud to work with my fellow Bucks and Montgomery county colleagues to send this important piece of legislation to the Senate,” said DiGirolamo.
“Reps. Stephens, Schroeder and Polinchock worked tirelessly on behalf of the residents of their districts in addressing this growing concern,” House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler (R-Lancaster) said. “It’s an important step in addressing the issue, and if similar situations occur in other communities across the Commonwealth, residents will be able to follow the successful blueprint developed by Rep. Stephens and other members in finding a potential solution.”
House Bill 1410, which passed with large bipartisan support 144-54 (with 11 Republicans and 43 Democrats voting against the legislation), would redirect a portion of state tax revenue generated from the reuse of the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station and some land surrounding it to a newly created municipal authority, which would use the funds to eliminate the local surcharges ratepayers have been paying for clean water; to remediate water contamination caused by the military installation; and for infrastructure to encourage redevelopment of the closed military installation.
For decades, the former Willow Grove Naval Air Station conducted military training exercises using aqueous film-forming foam in firefighter training activities. This foam contained PFAS and contaminated the drinking water supplies in the area. The cost of removing the contaminants has been passed on to ratepayers.
“I believe this is the best way to eliminate the current surcharges to ratepayers and encourage the redevelopment of the Willow Grove Naval Air Station to the benefit of our community and the Commonwealth,” Stephens said.
Members of the Southeast Pennsylvania delegation who helped pass legislation to clean PFAS from local drinking water include, from left, Reps. Gene DiGirolamo, Martina White, Meghan Schroeder, Frank Farry, Craig Staats, Todd Stephens, Wendi Thomas and Todd Polinchock. Not pictured are Reps. Marcy Toepel and Thomas Murt.