Near- and Longer-Term Objectives Expected to Impact Wide Range of Industries
On October 18, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024. For the first time under the Biden Administration, the Roadmap expands the policies of the Agency’s 2019 Action Plan and accelerates its timeline with distinct objectives and benchmarks between 2021 and 2024. In no uncertain terms, the Agency intends to “leverage the full range of statutory authorities” through a range of key actions that take direct steps toward the regulation of PFAS under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA), Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), Safe Drinking Water Act ( SDWA), and Clean Water Act (CWA). EPA’s whole-of-agency strategy focuses on objectives to address three main goals: Research, Restrict, Remediate.
Who will be affected by the plan? In a word, everyone. It will impact manufacturers of PFAS, companies that utilize PFAS in their products (metal finishing, paper making, carpets and textiles), wastewater and drinking water utilities, airports and other facilities that utilize Aqueous Film Forming Form (AFFF), lending and financial institutions with industrial clients, private equity firms purchasing and selling companies with current or past PFAS use, and manufacturers and importers of products that inadvertently have PFAS in their goods.
Key Short-Term Objectives With Imminent Impact
Although there are many objectives to the plan, we wanted to highlight a few of the key objectives:
Research – The Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention has already published a national PFAS testing strategy and by the end of 2021 expects to issue the first round of test orders under TSCA § 4 requiring companies to conduct and fund studies of 24 PFAS. Also before the end of 2021, EPA expects to issue the Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) final rule. As proposed, UCMR 5 would undertake nationwide monitoring for 29 PFAS for regulation under the SDWA. Because information serves as the foundation underpinning the Roadmap’s goals, these and the other Research objectives aim to achieve an exponential expansion of data and public knowledge about PFAS presence and effects.
Restrict – In Spring 2022, EPA intends to propose enhanced reporting of information required under TSCA by designating PFAS on the TRI list as “Chemicals of Special Concern” and removing certain notification exemptions. This objective will substantially expand the number of companies required to report and notify PFAS under TRI, providing EPA and the public with a broader range of targets for restriction under permits and other regulations.
Remediate – In Spring 2022, EPA plans to propose designation of PFOA and PFOS as hazardous substances under CERCLA, with the intent to finalize the designation by Summer 2023. Long expected, this designation will launch a series of actions under CERCLA, including sampling and response activities, potential reopening of Superfund sites. Designation will also trigger for any facility to report PFOS and PFOA releases over reportable quantities, and it will also give states more authority for regulation and enforcement.
~sJD Supra, 22 October 2021