On January 7, 2020, the White House announced its intention to veto the PFAS 2019 Action Plan. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) are a class of over 4,000 manmade chemicals with unique physical properties that make them water repellant, oil repellant, and heat resistant. PFAS are found in almost every state’s water supplies and are suspected to cause numerous human health impacts, including cancer.
Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell sponsored the 2019 PFAS bill, with the goal of reducing PFAS exposure. Congresswoman Dingell stated that “PFAS is a clear threat to human health and our environment” with “a lot of contamination … connected to military sites and the Defense Department.” This proposed bill came at the same time the EPA missed its own self-designated deadline (the close of 2019) to decide whether to regulate PFAS.
The White House dismissed the PFAS bill, claiming that it “would create considerable litigation risk, set problematic and unreasonable rulemaking timelines and precedents, and impose substantial, unwarranted costs on Federal, State, and local agencies and other key stakeholders in both the public and private sectors.” This stance caused backlash from numerous environmental activist groups, including the Environmental Working Group, who feel that the federal government needs to take a stronger position in regulating PFAS (in excess of the current EPA recommendation that PFAS concentrations in waterways do not exceed 70 parts per trillion).
A number of questions remain as to whether the federal government will impose more stringent standards pertaining to PFAS, such as whether more stringent maximum allowable concentration levels for PFAS in waterways will be established and whether the EPA will designate certain PFAS varieties as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (thereby providing EPA with authority to order PFAS cleanup).
Our attorneys have been at the forefront of PFAS issues, including giving presentations as to the future waves of litigation stemming from PFAS issues. For more information, please contact any of our PFAS – Toxic Torts Team: Jessica Deyoe, Suzanne Englot, Alexandra Fraher,or John Gardella.