On Friday, January 10, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would require the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, or Superfund) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). In this bill, the House addresses environmental regulation of PFAS initially considered in, but ultimately struck from, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2019. For more information about the PFAS provisions in the NDAA, see our write-up here.
Among other requirements, under the bill:
- EPA would designate two of the most high-profile PFAS compounds — perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) — as hazardous substances under CERCLA within one year of enactment.
- EPA would have five years to determine whether all other PFAS compounds should be similarly designated as hazardous substances under CERCLA.
- EPA would promulgate national primary drinking water standards for at least PFOS and PFOA under the SDWA within two years of enactment.
- There would be a five-year buffer during which EPA may not enforce any violations of these new drinking water standards.
- Certain PFAS would be designated as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
- There would be a five-year moratorium on EPA approving any new PFAS compounds for use under the Toxic Substances Control Act.
The White House has issued a Statement of Administration Policy strongly opposing passage of the bill and threatening veto.