Baldwin, Capito, Peters, Moran Push for Transition to PFAS-Free Firefighting Foam at Airports

In bipartisan letter, Senators urge FAA to release a transition plan to safe alternatives, minimize PFAS exposure for surrounding communities
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 10:59 AM CDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (U.S. SENATOR TAMMY BALDWIN PRESS RELEASE) - Today, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) sent a letter calling on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to expedite a plan to transition to firefighting foams that do not contain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), an emerging contaminant that has been found in drinking water across the country, often in proximity to airports.

“At Congress’s direction, the FAA is developing a transition plan to fluorine-free alternatives, and we urge the agency to complete and submit the plan on time. Delay would be unacceptable, not only to our nation’s airports, but also to the neighboring communities working to address PFAS contamination,” the senators wrote.

Firefighting foams containing PFAS have been linked to contamination of drinking water in communities across the country and in Wisconsin in close proximity to airports. In 2018, Congress directed the FAA to no longer require the use of firefighting foams that contain PFAS or similar fluorinated chemicals. In October 2021, the FAA removed the formal requirement that firefighting foams contain PFAS, but has not yet provided airports with an FAA-approved fluorine-free alternative.

In early January 2023, the Department of Defense (DOD) cleared the way to transition safely to PFAS-free firefighting foams by releasing guidance on safe alternatives. In the Fiscal Year 2023 federal funding legislation, Congress tasked FAA, in coordination with DOD and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with developing a transition plan for Part 139 airports to PFAS-free firefighting foam within 120 days, including all airports in Wisconsin with scheduled service. That transition plan is due by May 6, 2023.

“As Congress develops the next FAA reauthorization, it is critical for hundreds of communities across the country dealing with PFAS contamination that the FAA meet the deadline of May 6, if not sooner,” the senators continued. “It is vital that we continue to work together to accomplish the vital task of allowing our airports to move toward safer alternatives benefiting both airports and the communities in which they serve.”

A full version of the letter is available here and below.

An online version of this release is available here.