Senate EPW To Consider PFAS Bills This Week

(June 18, 2019) - After months of consideration and bipartisan negotiation, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee released final text of a comprehensive piece of legislation late last week to respond to growing concerns about PFAS.

NACWA and other stakeholder groups are closely reviewing the proposed legislative compromise, which the Committee plans to mark up on Wednesday, June 19.  The legislation focuses on:

  • Improved notification, including the listing of PFAS on the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI);
  • Expands monitoring of PFAS chemicals under the Safe Drinking Water Act;
  • Requires EPA to set, within two years, a national drinking water standard (MCL) for two key PFAS legacy compounds of concern (PFOA and PFOS) – with a five-year window for water systems to comply without a fine;
  • Requires nationwide sampling of PFAS in the environment by the US Geological Survey (USGS); and
  • Requires EPA to publish guidance on how to dispose and destroy PFAS chemicals in water, soils, air and other media, including a specific reference to biosolids.

NACWA is closely reviewing this last required guidance for potential impacts on clean water agencies. Notably, the Committee did not include a provision designating all or certain PFAS compounds as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

NACWA has worked with the Committee to advocate that if a CERCLA designation were included, that it would exclude clean water utilities from liability. The Committee was keenly aware of the potential unintended consequences a hazardous substances designation would have on the clean water sector, and this, along with other concerns, led to the CERCLA provision being held back for the time being.

NACWA will provide a more thorough review of the legislation, and how the Committee markup unfolds, in the next Current (June 25). Contact Kristina Surfus, NACWA Director, Legislative Affairs, or Emily Remmel, NACWA Director, Regulatory Affairs, to discuss further.

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