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PFAS Action Act Passes House, May Face Senate Consideration

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The U.S. House of Representatives on January 10 passed sweeping legislation aimed at imposing restrictions on new and existing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, including a five-year moratorium on bringing new PFASs to market. The PFAS Action Act (HR 535), which was introduced one year ago, passed with a simple majority of 247-159.

HR 535 incorporates text from 11 other bills addressing the controversial class of substances. Its numerous provisions include requirements that the EPA: 

  • amend section 5 of TSCA to require a "poses an unreasonable risk" finding and use prohibition in response to any new chemical notification for a PFAS, for a period of five years;
  • create a rule under section 8 of TSCA requiring manufacturers to submit relevant data; and
  • issue guidance for minimizing the use of PFAS-containing firefighting foam.

The House approved some amendments to the bill, including:

  • the removal of one of the bill’s most controversial provisions, which would have directed the EPA to designate PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (Cercla, or Superfund).
  • requiring the EPA to develop a national risk-communication strategy to inform the public about their hazards; and
  • preventing implementation of the measure’s provisions until after the EPA certifies that its PFAS action plan is completed.

The legislation faces an uphill battle to passage, given a Republican-controlled Senate and President Trump’s recent promise to veto the measure.

Regardless, lawmakers supporting the bill have highlighted its importance in view of widespread PFAS contamination in the United States.

The passage of the bill has met a mixed response from stakeholders. Environmental advocates heralded initial passage of the legislation as historic and as sending a clear message to regulators. The American Chemistry Council, however, said it opposed the legislation because it "applies a one-size-fits-all approach to regulating the wide variety of PFAS chemistries," an approach it argues is "neither scientifically accurate nor appropriate."

The bill has been referred for consideration to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.



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