EPA’s CERCLA Designation Slowed; National PFAS Regulation Discussions Increase Around NDAA
The EPA has missed multiple self-imposed deadlines for listing two PFAS (PFOA and PFOS) as “hazardous chemicals” under CERCLA. This is the first time the EPA has attempted to issue a rule designating a chemical as hazardous under CERCLA and is subjecting the agency to a high level of scrutiny.
The EPA stated this spring that the designation would be made by June of this year. An EPA spokesperson recently declined to answer questions about the reason for this delay, saying that this listing “remains a top priority for the EPA.”
Separate from the EPA’s work, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a “must-pass” annual bill funding the Defense Department (DOD) has been the main source of national PFAS legislation in the past several years. This year’s bill continues the trend by including several PFAS provisions.
The House version of the bill, containing multiple PFAS measures, passed the House on July 14. It will need to be reconciled with the Senate version of the bill before it is signed into law. The Senate Armed Services Committee is expected to bring their version of the bill to the floor in September.
Industry groups expect the Senate to remove more controversial measures in the House version, particularly by using a narrower definition of PFAS (preferred by industry groups) and removing an amendment requiring DOD PFAS treatment to meet the strictest EPA drinking water health advisory levels, which are currently unenforceable. The House PFAS amendments, including provisions opposed by some members of industry, were passed with high levels of bipartisan approach.
The Senate version of the bill includes language that urges the Pentagon to use commercial management software to better manage its PFAS remediation efforts, requires reports to Congress on site cleanup investigations near some military installations using AFFF, and requires reporting on DOD testing of AFFF alternatives.