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NH delegation fights President Trump's threat to veto defense budget over PFAS

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Washington, DC, July 12, 2019 | By Jean Mackin

President Trump is threatening to veto the defense budget, in part because that bill would also ban the military from using firefighting foam containing chemicals that have contaminated water in parts of New Hampshire.

The National Defense Authorization Act would ban the firefighting foam that's been used to smother fuel fires at hundreds of military sites across the US, including the Pease Air Force Base by October of 2023.

New Hampshire's delegation is now fighting the veto threat from the president.

“It would mean that military families would continue to be threatened and they would not have access to safe, clean drinking water,” said Rep. Annie Kuster, D-NH.

The Trump administration released a statement strongly objecting to giving the Department of Defense authority over PFAS contamination at military installations saying, " potentially great cost to and significant impact on DOD's mission, the legislation singles out DOD, only one contributor to this national issue."

Rep. Chris Pappas says his amendment, which passed the House Thursday, would add PFAS to the Clean Water Act's list of pollutants, requiring the EPA to set standards for discharge into waterways.

“It's time for us to push for stronger standards, invest in cleaup and improve protections for those who have suffered from the effects of contamination,” said Pappas.

The New Hampshire Safe Water Alliance says while the federal government debates responsibility, states should step up. She says New Hampshire's Legislature could prohibit contaminated foam use here.

“It's just been found we have these high levels of some of the more unknown PFAS chemicals going into Great Bay and shellfish in Great Bay from Pease, which is a perfect example of where these foams were used,” said Mindi Messmer, New Hampshire Safe Water Alliance.

New Hampshire's delegation calls this a bi-partisan effort.

The House and Senate still have to agree on a version of the defense bill before the president decides whether or not to veto.