Federal and State Action Escalating on PFAS Phaseout
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on June 9 to discuss the effects and public health consequences of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFAS. The Committee, chaired by Thomas Carper (D-DE) and Ranking Member Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV), questioned a panel of environmental experts and concerned citizens: Joanne Stanton, Co-founder of the Buxmont Coalition for Safer Water; James Kenney, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department; G. Tracy Mehan III, Executive Director of Government Affairs for the American Water Works Association; and Scott Mandirola, Deputy Secretary for External Affairs of the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection
The class of chemicals has been shown to persist in the environment indefinitely, leading to groundwater contamination and negatively impacting human health. For decades, many industries have used PFAS chemicals in a wide variety of applications, from electronics to household items including makeup, cookware and food packaging. Most importantly for the liquid terminals industry, PFAS are used in firefighting foams due to the near indestructibility of the chemical bonds and their high evaporation points.
Questions from Senators in the hearing explored how PFAS enter the environment and what the impacts of these chemicals appear to be. The panelists argued that a phase-out of PFAS chemicals is imperative to safeguarding public heath, regardless of use. Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) asked the panel about the status of viable replacements for PFAS firefighting foams. None of the panelists were able to provide any information on this point.
All of this comes as Congress, the Biden administration and various states are increasingly focusing on how to regulate PFAS. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the No PFAS in Cosmetics Act on June 15, the same day a study by Environmental Science and Technology Letters showed PFAS present in about half of the cosmetics purchased in the U.S. and Canada.
On the House side, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee held a markup for the PFAS Action Act, introduced in April by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Fred Upton (R-MI). House appropriators also released a draft FY22 spending bill on June 27 that would boost EPA’s funding for scientific and regulatory work on PFAS with $62 million, up from $49 million in 2021. In his American Jobs Plan, President Biden included $10 billion in funding to monitor and remediate PFAS in drinking water.
ILTA met with the EPA Office of Science and Technology within the Office of Water earlier this month to discuss PFAS’s critical role in helping to protect the liquid terminal industry.
ILTA maintains a resource on our website dedicated to tracking PFAS legislation at the state level, which you can access here.