In light of new reports that uncovered significant levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination in the U.S. food supply, Sen. Tom Carper, on June 4, called for Congress to enact legislation that would take steps to begin addressing PFAS contamination in the environment.

“As Americans learn more about the ubiquity of PFAS in our environment and the extensive contamination in our water and food sources, understandably, there is a growing anxiety among the public about the dangers these chemicals pose to human health. There is also a growing exasperation about the Trump administration’s response to this urgent problem. It is abundantly clear that Congress must take heed of what we do know and act now to begin addressing PFAS contamination,” said Carper.

“Last month, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a legislative hearing to review several bipartisan bills that would begin to address PFAS contamination. As the administration continues to sit on its hands, Congress should quickly enact these and other needed measures,” said Carper. “I know several of my colleagues care deeply about confronting this complicated problem, and I hope they will join me in raising the alarm and creating some urgency around this issue.”

While the Environmental Protection Agency continues to delay real action on this nationwide contamination, senators from both parties are joining forces by advancing bills compelling EPA to address PFAS with the urgency it deserves:

— Drinking water standard for PFAS. The EPA Regulatory Agenda indicates that the Safe Drinking Water Act regulatory determination of whether to set a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS will be final by January 2021. Assuming Wheeler keeps his word that EPA will set a drinking water standard for PFOA and PFOS, the Safe Drinking Water Act (section 1412(b)(1)(E)) sets a deadline of 3.5-4.25 years after January 2021 for a drinking water standard to be finalized. That means that a drinking water standard won’t be in place until about January 2025 and won’t be fully implemented for years after that. By contrast, the bipartisan legislation introduced by Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, and Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, S. 1473 — the Protect Drinking Water from PFAS Act of 2019 — requires the PFAS drinking water standard to be set within two years of enactment.

— Designating PFAS as a hazardous substance. The EPA Regulatory Agenda indicates that the designation of PFOA and PFOA as hazardous substances eligible for cleanup under CERCLA, or the Superfund Law, will be proposed by October. However, it does not indicate when it will be finalized. It also notes that EPA has not yet determined what legal authority it will rely on to make the designation or what analysis will be required. By contrast, the bipartisan legislation introduced by Carper and Capito, S. 638, would require PFAS to be a designated hazardous substance within one year of enactment.

— Listing PFAS on the Toxic Release Inventory. The EPA Regulatory Agenda expects an October Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to list some PFAS on the Toxic Release Inventory, which serves as a centralized database of environmental releases or waste processing of toxic chemicals by industrial and federal facilities. This means that it will likely be at least October 2021 before a final rule listing a single PFAS chemical on the TRI will be promulgated, and at least December 2022 before the first year of TRI data has been collected and reported. By contrast, the bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Capito, Gillibrand and Carper, S. 1507, would immediately list almost 200 PFAS chemicals on the TRI for the reporting year beginning Jan. 1 the year after enactment.