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Congress Passes Bill with Disaster Relief Funds, FEMA reforms & PFAS Restrictions

The U.S. Senate passed HR 302 on Wednesday night; the bill will now move to the President’s desk for signature. In addition to reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration, HR 302 includes disaster relief appropriations and reforms to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).481px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Congress

Disaster Relief Funds

HR 302 appropriates $1.7 billion in emergency supplemental funding to HUD’s Community Development Fund for activities that aid disaster relief and recovery efforts in areas affected by natural disasters, including those affected by Hurricane Florence. The bill also includes language authorizing use of hazard mitigation assistance to replace water systems that have been affected by wildfires.

Annual Emergency Response Training and Guidance

FEMA will provide guidance and training on an annual basis to state, local, and Indian tribal governments, first responders, and utility companies on developing a strategy to coordinate emergency response plans between governments, utilities, first responders and certain facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities.

Damaged Underground Water Infrastructure

FEMA will also be required to “conduct a review of the assessment and eligibility process under the public assistance grant program with respect to assistance provided for damaged underground water infrastructure as a result of a major disaster.” FEMA will report findings to Congress and if necessary initiate a rule-making to address the reports recommendations.

Use of Fluorinated Chemicals in Firefighting Foam

Within the next 3 years, aircraft manufacturers and airports will no longer be able to require the use of fluorinated chemicals to meet the performance standards for firefighting foam. The removal of this requirement will help phase out the use of firefighting foam containing specific types of Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) – perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) – as active ingredients, which have contributed to the contamination of drinking water sources.