Congressional Roundup: Fishermen masks, Blinken questions, PFAS regulations

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It’s June 15, 2021. Here is a roundup of recent news from New Hampshire’s Congressional Delegation.

Congressional dome. Credit/Wikimedia Commons

Commercial fishermen no longer need to wear masks

Following a recent push by U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Coast Guard recently announced updated guidance stating that commercial fishermen who are fully vaccinated do not need to wear a mask while outside on a commercial fishing vessel. Prior to this updated guidance, commercial fishermen were required to wear a mask while they work. The updated guidance comes after Senator Hassan and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) pushed the agencies to loosen restrictions for fully vaccinated commercial fishermen after hearing from fishermen in their states that wearing a mask while they work is unsafe.

“I am glad that the CDC and Coast Guard heeded our bipartisan call to remove the unnecessary mask requirement for fully vaccinated commercial fishermen,” Hassan said. “I want to thank New Hampshire’s fishermen for their successful advocacy to remove this outdated requirement and for speaking out about the challenges they face. This updated guidance is welcome news for fishermen in New Hampshire and across the country, and I urge the CDC and Coast Guard to continue to update guidance based on the science.”

Shaheen questions Blinken on Nord Stream II, withdrawal from Afghanistan and opening Canadian border.

Last week, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (pictured above) questioned U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to discuss the Fiscal Year 2022 State Department Budget.

Questions included asking for a timeline on re-opening the U.S./Canadian border, the State Department’s strategy on the impact of the Nord Stream II pipeline and how it might impact Ukraine’s energy security and ensuring the safety and rights of women in Afghanistan as U.S. troops withdraw.

Shaheen’s full line of questioning can be seen here.

Pappas reintroduces bill putting regulations on PFAS

Representatives Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Antonio Delgado (D-NY), along with U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) reintroduced their Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act, which would regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals under the Clean Water Act to finally stop manufacturers and other polluters from contaminating our nation’s waterways with toxic levels of PFAS.

Currently, there are no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations limiting how much PFAS polluters can discharge into the environment.  This means that the companies that manufacture products using PFAS chemicals can release PFAS into federally regulated waters unchecked, endangering public health and requiring costly clean-up and treatment efforts to protect drinking water sources. The burden of costly clean-up efforts are often placed on the communities themselves, rather than on the companies responsible for the contamination. The Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act regulates PFAS under the Clean Water Act in order to help stop toxic levels of PFAS from entering water sources in the first place.

“PFAS is one of the most pressing environmental and public health issues facing our nation today – impacting millions of Americans,” said Pappas. “The Clean Water Standards for PFAS Act takes critical steps to hold polluters accountable, establish proactive limits for PFAS, and support communities that have been directly affected. I am proud to help introduce this legislation in the House, and I remain committed to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to fight for better standards, increased investment, and a stronger national focus on the issue of PFAS contamination.”