Legislative Corner

Federal and State Legislative Activity Continues on PFAS

Federal and state lawmakers continue to advance legislative efforts to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). PFAS have been used in a variety of consumer products and industrial processes and are often recognized for use in nonstick cookware, waterproof apparel, and fire-fighting foam. The U.S. House of Representatives voted this week to pass legislation that would further regulate PFAS. In a bipartisan vote of 241 to 183, lawmakers advanced HR 2467, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, which would impose federal requirements to address PFAS under many environmental statutes, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), the Clean Air Act (CAA), the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the Toxic Substances Control Act.

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Congress Rescinds Trump-Era Methane “Policy Rule”

On June 25, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to rescind a Trump-era methane rule using its Congressional Review Act (CRA) authority, which includes special procedures that allow Congress and the President to rescind certain rules promulgated during a prior administration, within defined time limits. The Senate passed the CRA resolution disapproving the rule on April 28, 2021. The measure garnered bipartisan support in both chambers. Congress presented the resolution to President Biden, who signed it on June 30, 2021.

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Environmental Justice Pollution Cleanup Act to Be Reintroduced

On June 11, 2021, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Representative A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) announced the reintroduction of the Environmental Justice Pollution Cleanup Act of 2021 – a bill first introduced in 2020, which would provide for significant investment in environmental justice communities to address the health and environmental effects of pollution. This marks the latest of a series of proposed legislation addressing environmental justice. In March 2021, we reported on the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which allocated $100 million in funding to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for programs, including the retrofitting or replacement of diesel engines or equipment, cleanup and redevelopment of brownfields sites, and technical assistance for small community water systems.

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SEC Climate Disclosure Bill Clears U.S. House Committee Vote

The U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee advanced another piece of legislation related to disclosures of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) metrics on Wednesday, May 12, 2021. Introduced by Rep. Sean Casten, D-Ill., HR 2570, the Climate Risk Disclosure Act, cleared the committee with the full support of the majority members in a vote of 28 to 24.

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Texas Legislature Passes Anti-ESG Bill

Earlier in May, the Texas Legislature passed a bill (SB 13) that would prevent Texas from investing in environmental, social, and governance (ESG) financial products that boycott Texas energy companies. If signed into law by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, SB 13 would require Texas’ public pension funds to “sell, redeem, divest, or withdraw all publicly traded securities of [any] financial company …” that “boycott[s] energy companies.”

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House Introduces PFAS Action Act of 2021

On Tuesday, April 13, Reps. Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton, both D-Mich., introduced the PFAS Action Act of 2021, seeking further regulation of per- and polyfluorinated substances (PFAS). Most notably, the bill would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to take action to address two PFAS chemicals — PFOA and PFOS — through a number of regulatory provisions: designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, designating PFOA and PFOS as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act, and requiring EPA to establish national drinking water standards for PFOA and PFOS.

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