House panel approves assortment of PFAS proposals

According to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), a House of Representatives subcommittee last week approved a slate of 13 bills related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Among the legislation, bills include measures that would require EPA to issue a drinking water regulation for total PFAS within two years and designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The action by the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee came more than four months after the panel held an initial hearing on many of the proposals, and as House and Senate negotiations continue over the inclusion of PFAS provisions in a must-pass defense policy bill. The Senate version of that defense bill includes provisions that would overhaul the Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) regulatory process for PFAS, so the leaders of the House panel with jurisdiction over SDWA are acting now to put out markers of their own policy preferences on that topic.

The subcommittee approved all 13 bills with most votes falling along partisan lines. Democrats generally argued the measures are necessary to protect the public against exposure to PFAS, while Republicans cautioned that some measures would mandate new regulations without adequate scientific scrutiny. Both sides, however, pledged to continue discussing the measures before the bills are considered by the full Energy and Commerce Committee as early as next month.

Water-related PFAS legislation advanced by the subcommittee last week included:

  • H.R. 2377, which would require EPA to promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation for total PFAS within two years;
  • H.R. 535, which would require EPA to designate all PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA within one year;
  • H.R. 2533, which would require EPA to establish a new program to award grants to drinking water systems to pay capital costs associated with the implementation of eligible treatment technologies; and
  • H.R. 2570, which would establish a PFAS Treatment Trust Fund, sponsored by fees imposed on PFAS producers, to offer grants to help drinking water and wastewater systems pay operation and maintenance costs associated with the removal of PFAS.

In recent months AMWA, and other water sector stakeholders have raised concerns about some of the proposals, particularly those that would circumvent SDWA’s regulatory process in order to quickly require the promulgation of new regulations, or that could leave drinking water systems vulnerable to cleanup liability under CERCLA following their legal disposal of water treatment byproducts containing PFAS. AMWA articulated these concerns in a statement submitted for the subcommittee’s May hearing. The association intends to remain engaged on the topic throughout the fall.

Source: Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies


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