Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with the Axios AM and PM newsletters. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to the Axios Closer newsletter for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with the Axios Sports newsletter. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Des Moines newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Tampa Bay newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin in Washington, D.C., in January. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Multiple states are pressuring the Department of Defense to address its widespread "forever chemical" problem after the Pentagon admitted hundreds of drinking water systems were contaminated through the use of flame-retardant foam at military bases around the country.

Why it matters: As alarm over the health and environmental impact of these chemicals continues to grow, DoD has said that cleaning the pollution and finding the alternative fire-fighting system that Congress has demanded will cost billions of dollars.

The big picture: Seven states — New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire and Vermont — have passed regulations on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water.

  • Some of those states are now struggling with how to enforce those standards when the federal government violates them, according to Bloomberg Law.

New Jersey sued the federal government in January for violating its drinking water standards for PFAS, claiming DoD's use of aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst elevated levels of the chemicals in groundwater and drinking water wells.

  • New Jersey wants the federal government to pay the current and future costs for investigating, cleaning up and monitoring PFAS and for medical monitoring of residents whose drinking water had been contaminated.
  • DoD could not comment on the New Jersey lawsuit because it is ongoing, Peter Hughes, a spokesperson for the department, told Axios.

By the numbers: DoD told Congress in 2018 that at least 564 public or private drinking water systems near suspected or known releases of AFFF by DoD had been contaminated with PFOS and PFOA, two types of PFAS that have been linked to adverse health effects, including an increased risk of developing cancer.

  • It also disclosed that 24 drinking water systems that it operated contained levels of these chemicals above standards in the Environmental Protection Agency's drinking water health advisory, according to a 2019 department report.
  • The department said it notified all people relying on those systems to stop drinking the water and provided an alternative source of water after the contamination was discovered.
  • "No one — on or off base — is drinking water above the Environmental Protection Agency’s lifetime health advisory level where DoD is the known source of PFAS," Hughes said.

DoD is assessing at least 693 military installations across the country where it suspects that PFAS-containing AFFF may have been used, Hughes added.

  • Maureen Sullivan, DoD's top environment official at the time, told lawmakers in a 2019 hearing that cleaning up military sites would cost around $2 billion.
  • Hughes said the department is still estimating the entire cleanup cost at the installations.

How it works: AFFF is a firefighting foam used by DoD since the 1970s to quickly extinguish fuel fires on ships and airplanes.

  • A fast fire suppression system like AFFF is necessary for those vehicles because people on board are usually dangerously close to fuel and munitions.
  • Because of their strength, PFAS can remain in the environment for hundreds of years while accumulating in fish, wildlife and humans.
  • The department stopped using the foam while testing and training for emergencies in 2016 unless it can be completely contained and properly disposed of.
  • Hughes said starting in 2019, the department required that new supplies of AFFF do not contain levels of PFOS above 800 parts per billion, which is the smallest concentration of the chemical that can be reliably measured.

What's next: The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020 required DoD to find and adopt a replacement for AFFF, but it has not yet found a foam that meets its safety standards, according to a 2020 report from the department's PFAS task force.

  • DoD is currently investing more than $49 million over the next four years to research, develop and test an alternative, though the Pentagon said in a 2020 hearing that research had been temporarily delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Once an alternative is found, the department will have to remove the foams from its fleet of approximately 3,000 firefighting vehicles and modify those vehicles so they can use the new alternative.

Go deeper

Updated 22 mins ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 2 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker