EPA releases annual report reviewing action on PFAS

Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its second annual report on PFAS progress, which the agency said highlights significant accomplishments achieved under its PFAS Strategic Roadmap and aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s all of government strategy to protect communities from the impacts of forever chemicals. 

The report outlines key accomplishments under the Roadmap over the past year across three fronts – to restrict, remediate and research PFAS – all centered on achieving fundamental health protections for the American people.

“The Roadmap is our commitment to the American people to confront PFAS contamination head on — by following the science, leveraging all available tools and authorities, holding polluters accountable, and investing historic resources to protect communities,” said Radhika Fox, Assistant Administrator for Water and co-chair of EPA’s Council on PFAS. “PFAS are an urgent public health concern, and under the Biden Administration, our second report on the Agency’s progress shows how EPA is delivering on its mission to protect our land, air, and water – and the communities who rely on them – from these chemicals.”

According to the agency, key accomplishments in 2023 include efforts to:

  • Make PFAS use safer: EPA finalized rules for new PFAS reporting, issued a framework for reviewing PFAS to ensure they are safe, and proposed to eliminate exemptions for new PFAS and to restrict certain legacy PFAS.

  • Hold polluters accountable: EPA has proposed to list PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, the nation’s Superfund law, and anticipates issuing a final rule in early 2024. This action would give the agency the power to improve transparency around PFAS releases, help ensure that polluters pay for treatment and cleanup, and help communities that are facing significant pollution quickly receive effective protections. In the last year, EPA also took important steps to stop PFAS polluters, including adding PFAS as an EPA enforcement and compliance priority from 2024-2027.

  • Deploy infrastructure funding to invest in infrastructure projects to address PFAS in water: Many communities need to install new infrastructure and treatment technologies to address PFAS in drinking water and wastewater. Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), EPA is providing $10 billion dedicated to removing PFAS and other emerging contaminants – more than half of which is going to marginalized and underserved communities. In 2023, EPA distributed nearly $1 billion through the BIL State Revolving Fund Emerging Contaminants programs and announced the first $2 billion in grant funding to states, Tribes, and territories through the new Small and Disadvantaged Communities Emerging Contaminants grant program.

  • Incorporate equity and environmental justice across out actions: The EPA has worked to ensure that all communities have equitable access to solutions, and to integrate recommendations from the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council.

  • Advance the science: The EPA has continued to build the scientific foundation on PFAS thorough research and development. The Agency is investing in research to fill gaps in our understanding of PFAS, to identify which additional PFAS may pose human health and ecological risks at which exposure levels, and to develop methods to test, measure, remove, and destroy them.

  • Listen to communities and incorporate environmental justice: EPA held listening sessions with community members impacted by PFAS in each of its ten Regions, as well as a session specifically designed for Tribal partners. Feedback shared during these sessions, in coordination with recommendations from EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council and Local Government Advisory Committee, is informing agency response efforts and helping to ensure that communities with environmental justice concerns have equitable access to information and solutions.

Whole-of-Government Effort

As EPA advances critical work using its authorities and resources, it is doing so as part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to protect public health and the environment from PFAS. This coordinated effort, spearheaded by the White House, involves key collaborations. The Council on Environmental Quality leads a high-level interagency policy group focused on PFAS policy actions and the Office of Science and Technology Policy leads an interagency expert working group of federal technical and scientific leaders. Through these efforts, EPA and its partners are increasing interagency coordination and advancing work on research, analytical methods, contaminated site cleanup, and other areas.

Looking ahead to 2024, EPA said it anticipates continuing its 2023 progress with several critical actions, including finalizing national drinking water standards for several PFAS; taking final action to list certain PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA; proposing Effluent Limitation Guidelines for PFAS manufacturers; issuing guidance on destroying and disposing of PFAS; finalizing new methods to monitor for PFAS in a wide range of media; and proposing rules designating certain PFAS as hazardous constituents under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. The agency also expects to continue engaging closely with its state partners, who are actively working to address PFAS issues in their communities.

Read the full report.

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