Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia; Gary Peters, D-Michigan; Thom Tillis, R-North Carolina; Debbie Stabenow, D-Michigan; Marco Rubio, R-Florida; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Cory Gardner, R-Colorado; Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire; Richard Burr, R-North Carolina; Michael Bennett, D-Colorado; and Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, introduced on March 1 legislation that would mandate the Environmental Protection Agency within one year of enactment declare per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup funds under the EPA Superfund law, and also enable a requirement that polluters undertake or pay for remediation.

Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Michigan, led the introduction of companion legislation in the House of Representatives earlier this Congress.“In the recently released PFAS Action Plan, EPA restated its promise to declare PFAS as hazardous substances, but did not indicate how long it would take to fulfill that promise,” said Carper. “This is an issue that must be addressed with urgency — and that’s why this bill is so important. Designating these chemicals has hazardous substances will, at a minimum, start the process to ensuring contaminated sites across the country are cleaned up, and Americans are safer from the threat posed by these emerging contaminants. This is not the only measure needed to address the broader contamination problems, but it’s a start, and I’m proud this legislation has strong bipartisan support.”

In May 2018, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt announced that EPA would propose designating PFOA and PFOS, two specific PFAS chemicals, as “hazardous substances” through one of the available statutory mechanisms, including CERCLA Section 102. Nearly a year later, on Feb. 14, 2019, EPA released its long-anticipated PFAS Action Plan. The plan included another commitment by EPA to make that designation for PFOA and PFOS, but did not identify the available statutory mechanism it would use, nor how long the designation process would take to complete.

Clear and swift action from Congress to list PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA would advance the action already proposed by EPA, enabling the agency to protect human health and the environment in an expeditious manner.

The full text of the bill is available at bit.ly/2tL0DD6.