NACWA Urges Members to Contact Congress as House Considers Effluent Limits, Hazardous Substance Designation for PFAS

(July 10, 2019) - As Congress returns from its July 4th Recess, the U.S. House of Representatives has increased its focus on PFAS, including legislative language that has potential serious consequences for public clean water utilities.  Immediate NACWA utility action to contact Members of the House is critical to address these concerns.

Last night, the House Rules Committee met to consider amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 2500, which the House will start voting on later today.  The Rules committee allowed two concerning amendments related to PFAS to be considered as part of the overall NDAA.

One amendment is from Rep. Pappas of New Hampshire (text available here) and one from Rep. Dingell of Michigan (text available here).

While the goal of these amendments to address PFAS may be well-intentioned, their practical implications could impose serious challenges on public clean water utilities.  Of particular concern, the Pappas and Dingell amendments would trigger liability for 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 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. 

NACWA is fully supportive of thoughtful legislative action to address PFAS, but believes that the potential implications of these amendments are so significant and complicated that the legislation should move through the regular congressional process of hearings, including review by appropriate committees of jurisdiction, to ensure all implications, including implementation feasibility and cost,  are fully understood and can be addressed.  They should not be included at the last minute on an unrelated defense bill without proper consultation with stakeholders. 

Accordingly, NACWA is asking all of its members to email or call your House member(s) as soon as possible and ask them to vote “No” on the Pappas and Dingell PFAS Amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), H.R. 2500.

If you need help crafting your message or identifying your member of the House of Representatives, please contact NACWA’s Chief Advocacy Officer Nathan Gardner-Andrews.

NACWA is committed to working with Congress and other stakeholders to address PFAS issues in an appropriate, scientifically justified manner.  The Association will engage with Congress to further refine and improve the various House PFAS proposals as they move forward.