Government

Ask Your Members to Reach Out to the Armed Services Conference Committee Today!

Water Environment Federation

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who contacted Congress in opposition to the Dingell PFAS amendment and the Pappas PFAS amendment.  Unfortunately, both amendments were accepted by voice vote and are now part of the House National Defense Authorization Act (HR 2500).  However, neither one is a part of the Senate version (S. 1790) and we are now asking our members to reach out your Members in both the House and Senate and request that the Armed Services Conference Committee to not include either the Dingell or Pappas amendment language in the final version of the bill. WEF staff is currently working closely with Congress and other water associations to either remove the amendments or make changes to the final bill to protect wastewater and drinking water utilities.  But it’s critical that Members of Congress hear from their constituents that the Dingell and Pappas amendments will unfairly burden utilities and changes must be made!

Background

In recent months the issue of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water has become an area of interest on Capitol Hill and many states. PFAS are a class of roughly 5,000 man-made chemicals of which only a handful have been studied. PFAS chemicals are used in a wide array of consumer products such as non-stick cookware, firefighting foam, and water-repellent clothes. These chemicals may not breakdown in the natural environment and can be inhaled, consumed, or absorbed by humans. Some PFAS chemicals are toxic at levels of a few drops in an Olympic size swimming pool.

The Senate incorporated a number of PFAS requirements in S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  It would mandate that EPA issue national regulations for two PFAS compounds: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) within two years of enactment. It has a number of other mandates related to drinking and wastewater water as well, but avoided including PFAS regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA) or CERCLA law, a.k.a. Superfund which are now a part of the House bill. 

Specifically, the amendment by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) would mandate additional PFAS regulation for water under CERCLA.  This has the potential to be very problematic for wastewater utilities.  Biosolid management in particular could be made subject to the Superfund law, which could place PFAS remediation costs on utilities and ratepayers.  PFAS industrial producers and industrial users should be responsible for remediating it in our environment, but CERCLA’s strict and retroactive liability requirements could place the burden on PFAS “receivers”, such as wastewater and drinking water agencies.

Additionally, amendment by Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) would mandate the EPA to develop effluent standards and pretreatment standards for PFAS under the Clean Water Act by Jan. 1, 2022.  With limited research into the health effects of the 5,000 PFAS compounds and no established analytical methods and treatment methods for wastewater effluent, this amendment is bad policy. 

Furthermore, congressional committee staff have determined under the Rep. Pappas amendment the CERCLA law would also be triggered because PFAS would be designated a hazardous substance under the CWA.  

WEF is requesting that members contact their Members of Congress to request that the Rep. Dingell amendment and Rep. Pappas amendment #48 be excluded from the final version of the NDAA legislation.  Please send this draft letter to your Members of Congress today.

Ask Your Members to Reach Out to the Armed Services Conference Committee Today!

Water Environment Federation

UPDATE: Thanks to everyone who contacted Congress in opposition to the Dingell PFAS amendment and the Pappas PFAS amendment.  Unfortunately, both amendments were accepted by voice vote and are now part of the House National Defense Authorization Act (HR 2500).  However, neither one is a part of the Senate version (S. 1790) and we are now asking our members to reach out your Members in both the House and Senate and request that the Armed Services Conference Committee to not include either the Dingell or Pappas amendment language in the final version of the bill. WEF staff is currently working closely with Congress and other water associations to either remove the amendments or make changes to the final bill to protect wastewater and drinking water utilities.  But it’s critical that Members of Congress hear from their constituents that the Dingell and Pappas amendments will unfairly burden utilities and changes must be made!

Background

In recent months the issue of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in water has become an area of interest on Capitol Hill and many states. PFAS are a class of roughly 5,000 man-made chemicals of which only a handful have been studied. PFAS chemicals are used in a wide array of consumer products such as non-stick cookware, firefighting foam, and water-repellent clothes. These chemicals may not breakdown in the natural environment and can be inhaled, consumed, or absorbed by humans. Some PFAS chemicals are toxic at levels of a few drops in an Olympic size swimming pool.

The Senate incorporated a number of PFAS requirements in S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  It would mandate that EPA issue national regulations for two PFAS compounds: perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) within two years of enactment. It has a number of other mandates related to drinking and wastewater water as well, but avoided including PFAS regulation under the Clean Water Act (CWA) or CERCLA law, a.k.a. Superfund which are now a part of the House bill. 

Specifically, the amendment by Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) would mandate additional PFAS regulation for water under CERCLA.  This has the potential to be very problematic for wastewater utilities.  Biosolid management in particular could be made subject to the Superfund law, which could place PFAS remediation costs on utilities and ratepayers.  PFAS industrial producers and industrial users should be responsible for remediating it in our environment, but CERCLA’s strict and retroactive liability requirements could place the burden on PFAS “receivers”, such as wastewater and drinking water agencies.

Additionally, amendment by Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH) would mandate the EPA to develop effluent standards and pretreatment standards for PFAS under the Clean Water Act by Jan. 1, 2022.  With limited research into the health effects of the 5,000 PFAS compounds and no established analytical methods and treatment methods for wastewater effluent, this amendment is bad policy. 

Furthermore, congressional committee staff have determined under the Rep. Pappas amendment the CERCLA law would also be triggered because PFAS would be designated a hazardous substance under the CWA.  

WEF is requesting that members contact their Members of Congress to request that the Rep. Dingell amendment and Rep. Pappas amendment #48 be excluded from the final version of the NDAA legislation.  Please send this draft letter to your Members of Congress today.