News Feature | November 13, 2019

Senate May Abandon PFAS Amendment

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


After reports seemed to indicate that the U.S. Senate would compel the U.S. EPA to take stronger action against the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water, things may have changed.

Earlier in 2019, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee agreed on an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would direct the EPA to issue a final drinking water level for two prominent PFAS, thus enforcing more stringent monitoring, treatment, and prevention of contamination. Now, that amendment appears to be in danger of being removed from NDAA entirely.

“The Senate is prepared to walk away from provisions of a defense policy bill that would compel the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate a cancer-linked chemical that is leaching into the water supply, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) told reporters,” per The Hill. “Inhofe said the broad provisions are veering outside the scope of what would typically be included in a defense policy bill — legislation that is already entangled in a fight over whether to give funding to President Trump’s border wall.”

PFAS exposure has been linked to cancer and the chemicals have found their way into drinking water supplies as a residual of industrial products like nonstick pans and through firefighting foam used at military sites.

As PFAS has contaminated drinking water in communities across the country, non-federal regulators have felt the EPA’s health advisories for the chemicals don’t go far enough. But if Senators decide to remove the amendment from the NDAA, the EPA is unlikely to alter its approach any time soon.

“If the NDAA proceeded without any PFAS provision, that would likely please the EPA, which is in the process of reviewing whether to set a drinking water standard for PFAS and believes the regulation should come from the agency itself,” per The Hill.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has said the agency does not support the NDAA bill, but both the U.S. House and Senate are reportedly working on separate bills that are specific to PFAS regulation.

To read more about how drinking water utilities eliminate PFAS at the treatment level, visit Water Online’s Contaminant Removal Solutions Center.