PFAS Action Act Would Reinforce, Accelerate Current Priorities

Photo Illustration: Jonathan Hurtarte; Photos: Getty Images

The PFAS Action Act would, among other things, require creation of a national drinking water standard for various PFAS chemicals. Morgan Lewis environmental attorneys say the act could also significantly accelerate the timeline for classifying certain PFAS compounds as hazardous substances and allows the EPA significant discretion over future PFAS regulation.

The PFAS Action Act, introduced April 13 by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.), is a bipartisan bill that directs the Environmental Protection Agency to enact multiple significant regulations related to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). The bill largely mirrors legislation approved by the House in the last session of Congress in a 247-159 vote. Proponents are optimistic that the new Congress may be able to advance it into law this session.

Key Provisions

PFAS are a group of thousands of chemicals used in consumer and commercial products for their heat resistance and ability to repel moisture, oil, and grease, among other properties. The most sweeping proposals in the bill concern the two most studied PFAS compounds—perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS)—but certain provisions apply more broadly.

If passed, the bill would require the EPA to promulgate PFAS regulations by certain deadlines, including, in part:

  • Establishing a national drinking water standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for PFOA/PFOS within two years;
  • Determining whether to list PFOA/PFOS as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) within one year, and all other PFAS compounds within five years; and
  • Designating PFOA/PFOS as “hazardous air pollutants” under the Clean Air Act (CAA) within six months.

Other significant provisions include an annual $200 million grant to water utilities to treat PFAS in wastewater over four years; limiting industrial releases of PFAS under the Clean Water Act; prohibiting incineration of PFAS waste under the Solid Waste Disposal Act; voluntary labeling for PFAS in cookware products; requiring comprehensive toxicity testing of PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); and imposing a five-year moratorium on approvals of new PFAS uses under TSCA.

Stephanie R. FeingoldStephanie R. Feingold
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Jeremy EsterkinJeremy Esterkin
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Drew Cleary JordanDrew Cleary Jordan
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

Sarah M. CarterSarah M. Carter
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP

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