July ’23 at-a-glance … environment

Companies agree to $11.48 billion in settlements to address PFAS

Chemical manufacturer 3M Co. will pay at least $10.3 billion to settle lawsuits over the contamination of U.S. public drinking water systems with per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS), or so called “forever chemicals. In addition, three chemical companies ‒ DuPont de Nemours Inc., The Chemours Co. and Corteva Inc. ‒ reached a $1.18 billion deal to resolve complaints of polluting many U.S. drinking water systems with the chemicals used widely in nonstick, water- and grease-resistant products, as well as some firefighting foams.

EPA PFAS proposal could impact members providing drinking water from wells

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in March proposed strict limits on two common types of PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, and said it wanted to regulate four others. Under the proposal, water providers, including NAFEM members with wells that provide drinking water, would be responsible for monitoring their systems for the chemicals. These federal standards are expected to be issued in 2024 and, if approved as presented, would become effective in 2026.

The following states already address PFAS in drinking water and are in the process of or expected to expand legislation to address cleanup efforts and PFAS intentionally added to products: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

NAFEM communicates opposition to proposed NJ PFAS restrictions

NAFEM and other members of the PFAS Ban Coalition communicated their opposition to NJ S3177, which would establish reporting requirements for manufacturers of products with intentionally added PFAS and restrictions on certain products with intentionally added PFAS.

California and Maine currently have the most stringent PFAS regulations in the U.S. CA AB1200 requires manufacturers of cookware sold in the state beginning Jan. 1 2024, to disclose the presence of PFAS on the product label and on the product listing for online sales, in both English and Spanish. These requirements are closely aligned with California’s Proposition 65 – The Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act – that requires companies to provide warning labels to notify people of exposure to more than 1,000 chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.

In Maine, a retailer may not sell any products containing intentionally added PFAS after Jan. 1, 2030.

U.S. government reports on research conducted to inform national PFAS strategy

In 2021, Congress directed an Interagency Working Group to conduct research that supports the development and implementation of a nationwide PFAS strategic plan that includes identifying cost-effective alternatives, methods for removing PFAS from the environment and ways of safely destroying or degrading PFAS. The recently completed report outlines opportunities and identifies next steps including collecting additional data to inform a future federal plan; harnessing collaboration between federal, state, local and tribal governments; and outreach activities to inform the public.

EPA SNAP proposes refrigeration substitutes

Comments were due July 10 on EPA’s SNAP 26 proposed rule listing possible substitutes for the refrigeration and air conditioning sector. The proposed rule seeks to exempt propane in the refrigerated food processing from prohibition under the Clean Air Act (CAA) on the basis of current evidence that the venting, release, or disposal of this substance in this end-use does not pose a threat to the environment.

OSHA issues final updated methylene chloride exposure rules

In its updated final rule regarding exposure to methylene chloride, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) lowered regulations for employee exposure to methylene chloride, often used in metal cleaning and degreasing, as well as in paint removers.

Montreal Protocol meeting to assess progress toward HFC reduction goals

In preparation for the July 3 – 7 meeting of the Open-ended Working Group of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol meeting, the U.S. Department of State held a stakeholder meeting to discuss agenda items. The meeting primarily focused on quadrennial assessments of goals, including improving energy efficiency in combination with hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) reductions, control of HFC 23 emissions, institutional processes to strengthen the Protocol and other topics. The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) issued a summary report following the meeting.