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Contact members of Congress on PFAS proposals immediately

Contact members of Congress on PFAS proposals immediately

Last week, U.S. House and Senate leadership appointed conferees to work out a final national defense authorization bill, which is expected to contain significant provisions regarding PFAS. A roster of conferees and their respective states is immediately below the provided letter template.

Both the House and Senate passed national defense bills with PFAS provisions, though they differ somewhat. In summary, the House bill would, most significantly, mandate a hazardous substance declaration for all PFAS compounds. The Senate bill would mandate that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issue drinking water regulations for two PFAS compounds and encourage greater use of health advisories.

Now that the conference is meeting, AWWA is urging members to contact their members of Congress on the conference immediately to inform them that these provisions are a major concern to the water community. A template letter is provided below.

Contact information for members of the House may be found at www.house.gov and for members of the Senate at www.senate.gov.

Questions for AWWA can be directed to Tommy Holmes, legislative director, or Nate Norris, legislative affairs senior specialist.

 

Sept. 24, 2019

The Honorable XXX XXXXXXX
United States Senate [or U.S. House of Representatives]
Committee on Armed Services
Washington, DC

Dear Senator [or Representative] XXXXXXXXXXXXXX,

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances ( PFAS) are understandably a great concern to Congress, the public and water providers like myself. As a member of the House-Senate conference developing a single national defense authorization bill this year, you are in a unique position to have an impact on how the country addresses PFAS issues. We urge Congess to make sure that laws and regulations regarding PFAS are genuinely effective in protecting public health and place responsibility for cleanup of PFAS contamination on those responsible for its introduction into the environment.

We urge the conference to adhere to the following principles:

1. Liability for PFAS clean-up should rest with PFAS producers.

a. Congress should not hold community drinking water and wastewater facilities liable for PFAS contamination caused by PFAS products that we now realize should not have been allowed into commerce i n the United States.
b. Designating PFAS as a CERCLA (“Superfund”) hazardous substance would help communities that have a known responsible party with financial means to pay for cleanup. However, it could also create liability for communities that encounter PFAS in their water treatment activities. Once PFAS is removed from water, it then must be disposed of. A water utility that properly disposes of residuals containing PFAS, in a manner consistent with applicable laws, must not be held liable under CERCLA for future costs associated with PFAS cleanup. Those costs and responsibilities must remain with the original polluters that introduced PFAS into the environment. Failure to protect water utilities from this liability would victimize the public twice: once when they are forced to pay to remove PFAS from their water, and again when they are forced to pay to clean up PFAS elsewhere.
;  c. If Congress does designate PFAS as a hazardous substance under CERCLA, an exemption for water and wastewater treatment residuals should be included. Some parties have argued this is unnecessary because EPA has never gone after municipalities in CERCLA actions before. However, in the past, “potentially responsible parties” in CERCLA actions have sued more than 650 municipalities and counties in 12 states for contributions for cleanup costs.

2. Congress should not mandate that EPA set a drinking water standard for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as a group or class.

a. While research exists for legacy PFAS compounds such as PFOA and PFOS, more research is needed to understand the health impacts of other PFAS compounds and whether regulation of PFAS as a group or class would be an effective appro ach to public health protection.
b. EPA already has authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act to regulate groups of contaminants when warranted.

3. Congress should not direct EPA to prepare drinking water health advisories for PFAS compounds under the Safe Drinking Water Act.

a. Health advisories can become de facto maximum contaminant levels without consideration of feasibility (e.g., available analytical methods, effective drinking water treatment options, consideration of benefit-cost analyses, or due process with adequate notice and comment).
b. The Safe Drinking Water Act gives EPA broad authority to issue drinking water health advisories for unregulated contaminants, and the agency issued such advisories for PFOA and PFOS in 2016.
c. Health advisories should only be released when they facilitate effective risk management. It is not clear that health advisories issued while primary drinking water standards are in development would be effective mechanisms to guide public water systems toward sound local decisions.

4. Congress must provide EPA with the necessary resources to properly consider future PFAS regulations.

a. The Safe Drinking Water Act mandates a consistent, transparent, and science-based regulatory process for the consideration of new drinking water regulations. Establishing different regulatory processes for PFAS or any other groups of contaminants, with different deadlines and consideration procedures, would set a troubling precedent would likely lead to premature regulatory decis ions that lack public review and scientific validity.
b. Setting timelines without adequate resources to assist EPA would set up drinking water regulation related to the substances in question on a path to failure. The agency will need resources to:

i. fund research to support decision-making;
ii. develop policy and associated public engagement;
iii. help states with rule implementation; and
iv. provide technical assistance and funding for impacted water systems.
c. The nation can ill afford the further erosion of public confidence in drinking water and our regulatory system.

5. It is time for Congress to ensure that EPA utilizes the Toxic Substances Control Act to understand the risk posed by PFAS and control that risk before they are introduced into commerce.

We offer our expertise and experience in providing drinking water to your state [or district] to you and your staff if you have further questions.

Sincerely,

 

House conferees for defense authorization legislation

House Committee on Armed Services House Committee on Homeland Security
Rep. Ruben Gallego, Arizona Rep. Lauren Underwood, Illinois
Rep. Salud Carbajal, California Rep. Max Rose, New York
Rep. John Garamendi, California
Rep. Ro Khanna, California House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Rep. Jackie Speier, California Rep. Terri Sewell, Alabama
Rep. Gil Cisneros, California Rep. Adam Schiff, California
Rep. Susan Davis, California
Rep. Joe Courtney, Connecticut House Committee on Judiciary
Rep. Anthony Brown, Maryland Rep. Zoe Lofgren, California
Rep. Bill Keating, Massachusetts Rep. Jerry Nadler, New York
Rep. Seth Moulton, Massachusetts
Rep. Andy Kim, New Jersey House Committee on Natural Resources
Rep. Donald Norcross, New Jersey Rep. Raúl Grijalva, Arizona
Rep. Kendra Horn, Oklahoma Rep. Deb Haaland, New Mexico
Rep. Jim Langevin, Rhode Island
Rep. Jim Cooper, Tennessee House Committee on Oversight and Reform
Rep. Filemon Vela, Texas Rep. Stephen Lynch, Massachusetts
Rep. Rick Larsen, Washington Rep. Gerry Connolly, Virginia
Rep. Adam Smith, Washington, Chair
House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
House Committee on Budget Rep. Mikie Sherrill, New Jersey
Rep. Scott Peters, California Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas
Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky
House Committee on Small Business
House Committee on Education and Labor Rep. Jared Golden, Maine
Rep. Lori Trahan, Massachusetts Rep. Nydia Velázquez, New York
Rep. Bobby Scott, Virginia
House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
House Committee on Energy and Commerce Rep. Chris Pappas, New Hampshire
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., New Jersey Rep. Antonio Delgado, New York
Rep. Paul Tonko, New York
House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs
House Committee on Financial Services Rep. Mark Takano of California
Rep. Maxine Waters, California Rep. Julia Brownley, California
Rep. Brad Sherman, California
House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Rep. Eliot Engel, New York
Rep. Gregory Meeks, New York

 

Senate conferees for defense authorization legislation

Senate Committee on Armed Services
Sen. Doug Jones, Alabama Sen. Josh Hawley, Missouri
Sen. Dan Sullivan, Alaska Sen. Deb Fischer, Nebraska
Sen. Martha McSalley, Arizona Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire
Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Sen. Thom Tillis, North Carolina
Sen. Rick Scott, Florida Sen. Kevin Cramer, North Dakota
Sen. David Perdue, Georgia Sen. James Inhofe, Oklahoma
Sen. Mazie Hirono, Hawaii Sen. Jack Reed, Rhode Island
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, Illinois Sen. Mike Rounds, South Dakota
Sen. Joni Ernst, Iowa Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee
Sen. Angus King, Maine Sen. Tim Kaine, Virginia
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts Sen. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico
Sen. Gary Peters, Michigan Sen. Joe Manchin III, West Virginia
Sen. Roger Wicker, Mississippi
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