State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, explains the details of his bill banning PFAS chemicals for most firefighting during the Senate floor session on Monday. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

State Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, explains the details of his bill banning PFAS chemicals for most firefighting during the Senate floor session on Monday. The bill passed unanimously and now goes to the House for consideration. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)

Kiehl’s ‘no new spills’ PFAS bill passes Senate

Unanimous vote comes after years of effort by Juneau lawmaker to limit harm of “forever chemicals”

A significant victory in a Juneau lawmaker’s multi-year effort to reduce harm caused by PFAS chemicals occurred Monday as the state Senate unanimously passed a bill banning the substance for most firefighting purposes.

Senate Bill 67 by state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, a Juneau Democrat, is what he calls a “no new spills” bill that lacks cleanup provisions of proposals from previous years that failed to pass the Legislature. In an interview after the floor session, he said he believes the cleanup issues will be addressed by the first-ever nationwide standards for what are commonly called “forever chemicals” that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to enact this year.

“I think the EPA is exactly on the right track with clean water regulations and I expect the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation will be close on their heels,” he said. “The commissioner has said that publicly.”

Kiehl’s bill bans PFAS chemicals (an abbreviation for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) for firefighting, except when used for large oil and gas industry fires until a substitute chemical able to handle such large incidents is available. It also allows the state to accept up to 40 gallons of a firefighting substance that contains PFAS chemicals from about 130 small, remote communities that use “load carts” to store firefighting chemicals.

The senator, in an overview of the bill during the floor session, noted PFAS chemicals are effective at firefighting because the compounds are highly resistant to being broken down, but that comes with a corresponding durability in areas they’re used. He said said most of the contamination at the state’s hundreds of existing sites is from federally mandated training at locations such as airports, rather than fighting actual fires, but regardless of purpose, the chemicals pose a huge range of health risks ranging from birth defects to cancer.

“These things are bad for people and they’re bad for people in incredibly small concentrations,” he said.

Safer alternative substances are now deemed acceptable for most uses, including training, in the U.S. and multiple European countries, Kiehl said.

SB67 now goes to the House, where its prospects with less than 10 days left before this year’s adjournment are uncertain, especially with large differences remaining between the two chambers on major issues such as next year’s budget. A companion House bill did receive a hearing on Friday.

• Contact Mark Sabbatini at

More in News

Jasmine Chavez, a crew member aboard the Quantum of the Seas cruise ship, waves to her family during a cell phone conversation after disembarking from the ship at Marine Park on May 10. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for the week of July 6

Here’s what to expect this week.

Disney Williams (right) orders coffee from Lorelai Bingham from the Flying Squirrel coffee stand at Juneau International Airport on Thursday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
New coffee stand at airport stirs up heated dispute about having proper authorization to operate

Fans of Flying Squirrel Espresso praise location, hours; officials say FAA violations could be costly.

Nano Brooks and Emily Mesch file for candidacy on Friday at the City and Borough of Juneau Municipal Clerk’s office in City Hall. (Jasz Garrett / Juneau Empire)
City and Borough of Juneau regular municipal election candidate filing period opens

So far, most vie for Assembly District 2 seat — mayor, Board of Education, and District 1 also open.

Killah Priest performs at the Juneau Arts and Culture Center in December 2019. (Photo courtesy of Lance Mitchell)
Killah Priest sets new record with Alaskan artists on ‘Killah Borealis’

Wu-Tang Clan rapper seeks to lift Alaskan voices and culture in his return performance to Juneau

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Wednesday, July 10, 2024

For Wednesday, July 10 Attempt to Serve At 10:06 a.m. on Wednesday,… Continue reading

Commercial fishing boats are lined up at the dock at Seward’s harbor on June 22. Federal grants totaling a bit over $5 million have been awarded to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to help Alaskans sell more fish to more diverse groups of consumers. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Federal grants to state agency aim to expand markets for Alaska seafood

More than $5M to help ASMI comes after Gov. Dunleavy vetoed $10M for agency.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds up the omnibus crime bill, House Bill 66, after signing it at a ceremony Thursday at the Department of Public Safety’s aircraft hangar at Lake Hood in Anchorage. At his side are Sandy Snodgrass, whose 22-year-old son died in 2021 from a fentanyl overdose, and Angela Harris, who was stabbed in 2022 by a mentally disturbed man at the public library in Anchorage and injured so badly that she now uses a wheelchair. Snodgrass and Harris advocated for provisions in the bill.Behind them are legislators, law enforcement officers and others. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Goals for new Alaska crime law range from harsher penalties for drug dealers to reducing recidivism

Some celebrate major progress on state’s thorniest crime issues while others criticize the methods.

Juneau Board of Education President Deedie Sorensen (left) and Vice President Emil Mackey, holding his son Emil Mackey IV, listen to discussion about next year’s budget for the school district during a meeting March 14 at Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé. Recall votes for both board members were certified this week for the Oct. 1 municipal election ballot. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire file photo)
Petitions to recall two Juneau school board leaders get enough signatures for Oct. 1 election ballot

President Deedie Sorensen, Vice President Emil Mackey targeted due to school district’s budget crisis.

Most Read