May ’24 at-a-glance … environment

New EPA policy could result in increased fairness in case selection 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new Strategic Civil-Criminal Enforcement Policy could more consistently determine when the agency pursues criminal prosecution versus the civil-enforcement process, according to NAFEM’s legal counsel Barnes & Thornburg. The current approach is dependent on local decision-making and often arbitrary. “The policy establishes a decision-making process that should not only help prevent the inconsistent use of the criminal case-selection process, but also remove institutional impediments to changing course if a case is later found to have been improperly designated as criminal,” according to the firm’s Insights bulletin. 

EPA issues stringent drinking water standards addressing PFAS 

EPA issued new standards for any entity – including municipalities and companies that provide drinking water – to address the elimination of PFAS. 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.” Organizations have five years to comply. Already, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is considering legal action to this and to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act , (CERCLA), or Superfund designation, that also now includes PFAS. The latter could impact members who unknowingly sent PFAS-containing materials to landfills now covered by Superfund. NAFEM plans to hold a member webinar to discuss these two interrelated topics in the near future.  

The Complex Article Coalition overview of current PFAS legislation at the international federal and state level is a useful, regularly updated resource for monitoring the proliferation of PFAS activity.  

Solar grants to spur development of this energy source 

Sixty selected applicants will share $7 billion in Solar for All grants announced by the Biden administration on Earth Day. Monies come from the $27 billion Green Gas Reduction Fund  were awarded to states, municipalities, tribal communities and nonprofits across all 50 states. Those selected are expected to demonstrate reduction in climate and air pollution, benefits to low-income and disadvantaged communities, and the ability to attract additional financing to encourage further development of solar energy.  

Colorado PFAS ban excludes commercial cookware 

Colorado SB24-081, recently signed by Gov. Polis, excludes “food equipment intended primarily for use in commercial settings” from the approved ban on selling products with intentionally added PFAS. This addition was made to the House version of the initially approved Senate bill.