EPA Announced Latest Step in PFAS Action Plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the latest step in implementing its February 2019 “Action Plan” for regulating a group of synthetic chemicals called per- and polyflouroalkyl substances (PFAS) last week. While PFAS have long been used in a wide array of consumer and industrial products, they have recently become an emerging area of focus for environmental law and policy at both the state and federal level. The EPA’s latest Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) proposes adding PFAS to the list of chemicals for which facilities must report their annual manufacturing, processing, or use under the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act (EPCRA).
The EPCRA requires companies that use listed chemicals to annually report on their use, pollution prevention, and disposal of those chemicals. Typically, reporting is required only where manufacturing or processing exceeds 25,000 pounds or use exceeds 10,000 pounds. Currently, none of the 600 types of PFAS estimated to be manufactured or used in the U.S. must be reported under the EPCRA. The EPA’s Notice asks the public to comment on which, if any, of these types of PFAS should be listed for EPCRA reporting and what the reportable thresholds should be. The public comment period will begin shortly and run for 60 days.
The EPA’s press release accompanying the Notice emphasizes the breadth of its ongoing process to research, evaluate, and regulate PFAS under a variety of programs, according to its Action Plan. This summer, for example, the EPA issued draft guidance for addressing PFAS issues under federal cleanup programs. The EPA also stated last week that it expects to take further action under the Safe Drinking Water Act by the end of 2019. Numerous states have also proposed or implemented PFAS standards in recent years.