April ’24 at-a-glance … environment

EPA releases drinking water standards

EPA released long-awaited and controversial drinking water standards for specific PFAS substances. The standards establish maximum contaminant levels (MCL) of 4 parts-per-trillion (ppt) for PFOA and PFOS, and 10 ppt for PFNA, PFHxS and HFPO-DA, also known as “GenX Chemicals.” EPA also announced a 5-year implementation period. The standards apply to drinking water utilities and organizations that provide their own drinking water via a well or other resource.

EPA also announced nearly $1 billion in newly available funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help states and territories implement PFAS testing and treatment at public water systems and to help owners of private wells address PFAS contamination.

According to the America Alliance for Innovation of the American Chemistry Council, “Since this proposal was first announced, new real-world data has become available through national monitoring that confirms the rationale for this proposal is based on inaccurate and out-of-date information.” NAFEM legal counsel at Barnes & Thornburg expects legal challenges to the standards.

EPA releases guidance on managing PFAS waste

The latest science around destroying, disposing or storing PFAS waste is provided by EPA in its new publication, “Interim Guidance on the Destruction and Disposal of Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances and Materials Containing Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances. The guidance continues to focus on underground injection, landfill and thermal treatment technologies like those introduced in 2020. It also underscores the need to generate and publicly release data to validate whether existing or new technologies may be suitable for large-scale use. The interim guidance is part of EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap.

EPA awards $20 billion in greenhouse gas reduction funds

EPA awarded $20 billion to eight nonprofits from the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The monies will finance tens of thousands of greenhouse gas reduction projects, largely concentrated in low-income and disadvantaged communities. The projects will “spur adoption of clean distributed solar energy that lowers utility bills for millions of Americans.”

Colorado excludes commercial cookware from House version of Senate Bill

The Colorado Senate approved SB 24-081 exempting commercial equipment from the ban on intentionally added PFAS until 2028, giving the industry additional time to comply. The House version of the bill currently includes language that goes even further, excluding “food equipment intended primarily for use in commercial settings” from the definition of cookware in its draft. The bill continues to make its way through the Colorado House.

California looks to further regulate PFAS; NAFEM responds

California Senate Bill 903, introduced by Senator Skinner, would ban the sale of any products with intentionally added PFAS in the state by Jan. 1, 2030. CA AB1200 already requires manufacturers of cookware sold in the state to disclose the presence of PFAS on the product label and on the product listing for online sales, in both English and Spanish.

In a letter to Senator Skinner, NAFEM and other members of the Coalition of Manufacturers of Complex Products encouraged the creation of a “complex consumer and durable goods” category to simplify the unavoidable use exemption in the bill. The Coalition pointed out that the federal government uses a similar approach under the Toxic Substances and Control Act.

The Coalition also asked California to consider a coordinated and more targeted approach similar to that under consideration by Maine, which already has a Jan. 1, 2030, deadline banning intentionally added PFAS. Additionally, the Coalition requested that California enact a 15-year minimum exemption for all replacement parts.

DOE invests in decarbonation projects in highest emitting industries

DOE announced a $6 billion investment in 33 decarbonization projects. The projects are concentrated in disadvantaged and underserved communities in 20 states and focus on the highest-emitting industries:

  • Chemicals and refining
  • Cement and concrete
  • Iron and steel
  • Aluminum and metals
  • Food and beverage
  • Glass
  • Process heat
  • Pulp and paper