PFAS Agreement Elusive in Congress

(September 25, 2019) – Debate over how to address PFAS continues to roil Capitol Hill, while time runs out to pass the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

As NACWA has reported extensively, Congress has been working throughout the summer and early fall to pass legislation to address PFAS through the Fiscal Year 2020 NDAA, which is due to be passed by the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30th. The House-passed NDAA contains several provisions NACWA is advocating strongly against, including listing all PFAS as hazardous substances under federal CERCLA/Superfund law and as toxic pollutants under the CWA, which could trigger liability issues and additional costs on utility customers before any actual risk to human health from PFAS in wastewater has been scientifically established.   

Last week, the House and Senate began officially conferencing their respective NDAA bills. The environmental committees of jurisdiction in each chamber (Senate Environment and Public Works and House Transportation & Infrastructure) have not yet reached an agreement regarding these PFAS provisions. If no compromise language is reached by the committees, decisions could ultimately be kicked up to the Armed Services Committees – which have overall jurisdiction of the NDAA – and Congressional leadership.

Meanwhile, however, other key issues related to the NDAA defense provisions also still need to be resolved, and so the NDAA will likely not be passed “on time” by Sept. 30th. This delay will provide additional time for education and outreach to continue.

NACWA staff continues to engage with congressional staff on these critical issues, including responding to inaccurate arguments about potential utility liability being circulated by other environmental stakeholders.

Individual utility efforts to engage with Congressional offices have also been essential in building awareness and attention, and NACWA is very appreciative so many Association members have been able to reach out on this important topic. Please utilize any of the resources available on NACWA’s PFAS advocacy page and reach out to Association staff anytime.