Congress Introduces a Flurry of PFAS Legislation

Representatives from both parties of Congress have released a half dozen bills in response to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination. The bills range from providing more funding for communities tasked with the cost of treating contaminated water, increasing transparency in reporting chemical flows, and prohibitions on products with PFAS compounds.

The bills are:

  • The PFAS Drinking Water Act from Representative Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey), introduced on May 9, offers an alternative for helping communities with the cost of treating contaminated water. The bill authorizes $500 million per year over five years for grants to utilities under a program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • The PFAS Right-to-Know Act was introduced on May 8 and adds PFAS chemicals to the Toxics Release Inventory, a move that would require companies to disclose annually the quantity of PFAS compounds they release to air, land, and water.
  • The PFAS Federal Facility Accountability Act, introduced by a bipartisan group of Michigan representatives on May 9, requires federal departments to follow state rules for PFAS cleanup. The unwillingness of the U.S. Air Force to adhere to Michigan’s groundwater standards is an ongoing issue in that state.
  • The PFAS Waste Incineration Ban Act introduced by Representatives Ro Khanna (D-California), Debbie Dingell (D-Michigan), and Dan Kildee (D-Michigan) on May 9 requires the EPA to prohibit the burning of firefighting foam with PFAS chemicals as a means of disposal. A related bill directs the agency to issue guidelines for reducing use of such foams.
  • The PFAS User Fee Act from Representative Harley Rouda (D-California), introduced on May 8, requires PFAS manufacturers to pay into a trust fund, from which grants will be given to affected communities to pay for water treatment costs.

PFAS has been on NGWA’s radar for several years and will remain a priority issue for the foreseeable future. The Association has created a Groundwater and PFAS resource center for NGWA members. The center includes PFAS FAQs, top 10 facts about PFAS, and a homeowner checklist, among other items. NGWA is also the publisher of the guidance document, Groundwater and PFAS: State of Knowledge and Practice.

As in 2018, NGWA is hosting educational events on PFAS this year: