PFAS Legislation Passes House, NACWA to Push for Changes

(July 17, 2019) – The US House of Representatives passed PFAS legislation last week, as part of the annual National Defense Authorization (NDAA) bill, that has potential serious consequences for public clean water utilities.  NACWA will work diligently over the coming weeks in collaboration with other water sector groups to alter this language as the House bill is reconciled with a Senate bill that contains different PFAS language. 

While NACWA and the water sector were previously successful in working with the US Senate to ensure similar PFAS legislation was ultimately not included in passage of their version of the NDAA, the House Leadership moved several pieces of PFAS legislation to include as amendments at the last last minute to provide House Democrats political incentive for passage of the NDAA (H.R. 2500).

The two amendments of concern—one amendment offered by Rep. Greg Pappas (D-NH) and  the other amendment by Reps. Dingell (D-MI) and Dan Kildee (D-MI)—would trigger liability for all PFAS chemicals under Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) as hazardous substances, potentially imposing Superfund liability for biosolids containing PFAS. 

Additionally, the Pappas amendment would add all PFAS to the Clean Water Act (CWA) toxic pollutants list, require EPA to develop CWA effluent limitations for PFAS, and also require pretreatment standards for PFAS.

Fortunately, NACWA and the water sector were successful in working with Rep. Kildee to ensure he addressed the unintended consequences of these amendments on public water and clean water utilities in his House Floor remarks on the amendment.  Rep. Kildee stated that his intent is to protect public health and go after polluters that are the source of PFAS and pledged to work with utilities as the bill moves though the conference committee process to address the water sector’s concerns.

NACWA appreciates the goals and intent of Rep. Kildee and the other amendment sponsors, and looks forward to working with them further to ensure public clean water utilities and ratepayers are not unfairly hampered by any unintended consequences of this legislation.

NACWA also thanks all our members who reached out to their respective Members of Congress last week to share their concerns with the legislation/amendments.  This was vital in helping lay the groundwork as NACWA works with Congress during the NDAA conference committee process to ensure any final PFAS language properly reflects the sector’s concerns in appropriate, scientifically justified manner.

NACWA will continue to provide updates as they occur.  In the meantime, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs, or Jason Isakovic, NACWA’s Director of Legislative Affairs, to discuss further.