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June 22, 2023

Senate Committee Seeks Stakeholder Comment on Draft PFAS Legislation by July 3, 2023

Lynn L. Bergeson Carla N. Hutton

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works announced on June 22, 2023, that Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Chair of the Committee, and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Ranking Member of the Committee, have released draft per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) legislation for stakeholder comment. According to the press release, the bipartisan package seeks to improve the mitigation and remediation of PFAS contamination. The Committee seeks stakeholder comments on the draft legislation by July 3, 2023.

The press release states that the draft legislation seeks to achieve the following goals:

  • Support EPA’s Ability to Address PFAS for Communities through Infrastructure and New Technologies: The press release notes that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) “is already working to finalize drinking water standards, hazardous substance designations, and risk assessments for PFAS,” among other federal actions to respond to PFAS contamination. The draft legislation includes provisions that:
    • Set a September 30, 2024, deadline for EPA to complete its ongoing rulemaking process to set drinking water standards for specific PFAS substances;
    • Support the ability of states to inventory industrial users of PFAS within their borders;
    • Authorize grant programs for the development of treatment technologies for PFAS; and
    • Create a prize competition to encourage innovation in the development of technologies that can help identify PFAS in the environment, prevent further contamination, and remediate or destroy PFAS.
  • Expand EPA Science Related to PFAS: According to the press release, EPA has gaps in its knowledge and available scientific information about this large class of substances. The legislation will help EPA fill these gaps and build public support to address growing public concerns. This draft bill includes provisions that:
    • Provide a consistent and practical definition of PFAS compounds for use by federal agencies, state governments, and other entities;
    • Help bolster understanding of beneficial and nonessential uses of PFAS in commerce;
    • Direct EPA to create a clearinghouse of state and private-sector best practices to support informed decision-making on these chemicals; and
    • Direct EPA to work with an external standards-setting organization to supplement its work on PFAS standards –including for detection, reduction, destruction, remediation, and verification.
  • Assist Communities Dealing with PFAS Contamination: The contamination from PFAS is widespread, and communities are continuing to grapple with challenges driven by these chemicals. This draft legislation includes provisions that:
    • Amend the Safe Drinking Water Act State Response to Contaminants program, as amended in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, to allow states to assist individual well owners; and
    • Authorize a new emergency response program to support our most vulnerable communities plagued by acute contamination issues.

Comments may be submitted online by July 3, 2023.