Congress Continues PFAS Deliberations as October Recess Begins

(October 2, 2019) – Congress recessed on Friday, Sept. 27th for two weeks without reaching an agreement on the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) or its PFAS-related amendments. This was expected, given the scope of outstanding issues, and provides continued time for Members of Congress and their staff to debate these broad-ranging provisions and for education and advocacy by the water sector.

In the meantime, the House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change marked up a series of 15 bills related to PFAS last week, including the House stand-alone bill to designate all PFAS as hazardous substances under federal CERCLA/Superfund law (H.R. 535). While NACWA has similar concerns with this stand-alone bill as it does with the language in the House NDAA bill, this markup does not necessarily increase the likelihood of the proposal advancing into law.

Meanwhile, NACWA continues to engage with Hill staff on these issues. This past week, NACWA rebutted claims from an environmental advocacy group that utility concerns were exaggerated and continued conversations with Congressional staff regarding potential paths forward. These efforts will continue, in collaboration with other water sector partners, during the current two-week Congressional recess. 

Numerous Congressional offices have told NACWA that they are receiving emails and calls from concerned clean water agencies, and that these communications are very helpful. This outreach truly makes a difference in helping inform what has been a rushed and politically-charged debate, complicated by the very real concerns over lives and livelihoods that certain areas of the country are experiencing.

While many Members of Congress have indicated support for PFAS proposals that are problematic for the municipal clean water community, many lawmakers also understand that utility concerns should be addressed as the bills advance. NACWA and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) have a template letter for utilities interested in reaching out. Please utilize any of the resources available on NACWA’s PFAS advocacy page and reach out to Association staff anytime.