Congress Zeros in on PFAS Issues

(May 21, 2019) - The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change held a legislative hearing on May 15, entitled Protecting Americans At Risk of PFAS Contamination & Exposure. The hearing aimed to address the tsunami of legislative bills that have been introduced in the 116th Congress on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

During the hearing, some committee members highlighted the need for more information on risk—that much of the current discussion around PFAS has been driven by fear, not necessarily data—and the importance of properly communicating risks to the public. In addition, questions on the technology available to remove PFAS from water resources, as well as the cost on public drinking water utilities to do so, were also raised.

Other committee members struggled with which environmental statutory authorities would best protect human health and the environment most effectively, and whether to regulate PFAS as a class or on a chemical-by-chemical basis.

Witnesses included Erik Olson with the Natural Resources Defense Council; Jamie DeWitt from the Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University; Emily Marpe from Petersburgh, New York; Brian Steglize with the City of Ann Arbor; Tracy Mehan with the American Water Works Association; and Jane Luxton from Lewis Brisbois.

Tomorrow, the Senate Environment and Public Works will hold a hearing, entitled Examining Legislation to Address the Risks Associated with Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS), to examine the Senate’s legislative efforts on PFAS to date.

NACWA and the Water Environment Federation (WEF) will be submitting a statement for the record to the Environment and Public Works Committee highlighting the public clean water community’s concerns over PFAS and how these bills could impact POTWs.  NACWA will provide additional details on the hearing in next week’s Clean Water Current.  

In addition to these legislative efforts, NACWA will be holding its next Hot Topics in Clean Water Law Webinar devoted entirely to the “PFAS tsunami” and the potential impacts to clean water utilities (June 11 from 2:00 to 3:30 PM ET). You can register for the webinar, here.

If members have questions, please contact Emily Remmel, NACWA’s Director of Regulatory Affairs or Jason Isakovic, NACWA’s Director of Legislative Affairs.