From The Albuquerque Journal (Scott Turner):
President Donald Trump isn’t happy with Congress’ plan to provide aid to farmers affected by contamination from fire suppression foam at military bases nationwide, and he’s threatening to veto the defense spending bill over it and other issues.
The Trump administration does not believe the Department of Defense alone should be held responsible for the cleanup of the contamination at places like Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis and Holloman Air Force Base near Alamogordo.
“At potentially great cost and significant impact on DOD’s mission, the legislation singles out DOD, only one contributor to this national issue,” the White House states in a letter Tuesday addressing problems it has with the House version of the National Defense Appropriation Act of 2020. The White House didn’t specify who else should be forced to pay for the cleanup.
At least one local lawmaker is outraged by the president’s threat.
“It’s shameful,” U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said of the objection to the contamination provision. The House is expecting to vote on the legislation this week. The Senate passed its version of the bill two weeks ago…
During a press call hosted by the Environmental Working Group, New Mexico’s senior senator questioned who else could be responsible for the polyfluoroalkyl perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination of the groundwater near bases such as Cannon and Holloman other than the DOD or the Air Force.
“The administration’s position is that the DOD and the Air Force are only a small part of the problem,” Udall said. He said that while the fire suppression foam has been used by other sources that may have exposed parts of the country to smaller amounts of PFAS, the exposure is “far more concentrated around Air Force bases.”
The Senate version of the defense spending bill would authorize the Air Force to construct an infiltration system for dairy farmers, such as Art Schaap, whose dairy operation has been affected by the contamination at Cannon Air Force Base. It would authorize the purchase of land impacted by the contamination.
“One issue is the big plume,” Udall said. He said the Air Force would be required to install a pump-and-treat system.
“The plume is not only headed for dairy farms, but other homes in the area,” the senator said of the Cannon contamination.