Committee supports delaying Maine’s first-in-the-nation PFAS reporting law

A legislative committee is recommending that the state delay new reporting requirements for manufacturers of products that contain PFAS, the so-called “forever chemicals” are at the center of growing health concerns.

Companies were supposed to start filing reports with the state in January about any products that contain PFAS under a new law that put Maine at the forefront of efforts nationally to regulate the common chemicals. But the Maine Department of Environmental Protection is still working on the rules to implement the complex reporting process, which many companies and business groups said was unworkable. And the DEP has already granted temporary extensions to more than 2,500 companies.

On Wednesday, members of the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee voted unanimously to push back that reporting requirement to January of 2025. The revised bill would also exempt manufacturers with 25 or fewer employees from filing reports and changes the way that companies can report PFAS content in products to reflect the fact that testing methods are still being developed for the thousands of types of PFAS that are used commercial.

Committee co-chair Sen. Stacey Brenner of Scarborough said the delay also gives lawmakers more time to delve into the complex issue. The committee plans to seek permission from legislative leaders to hold additional meetings during the six-month period between sessions.

“What we’ve heard from the DEP is that there are two people working on this and the pressure value needs a little relief,” Brenner said. “We need to be able to free them up and take some pressure off so that there’s plenty of time for meaningful rulemaking and perhaps a little more guidance about what the rulemaking would look like.”

Maine has been among the most aggressive state in the country when it comes to PFAS, which is short for per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances. These chemicals have been used for decades in a broad range of products, from nonstick cookware and waterproof fabrics to cosmetics and high-tech airplane and automotive parts.

By Maine Public | By Kevin Miller