Biden administration renews focus on federal PFAS regulation

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Until recently, individual states led the initial push to comprehensively regulate Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (collectively, “PFAS”), a group of man-made persistent and bio-accumulative chemicals that includes perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), and GenX, among others, leading to a patchwork of disjointed regulatory requirements throughout the country. While the federal government initiated efforts to regulate PFAS under prior administrations, regulation was primarily sought through the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), supplemented by water quality monitoring. More recent efforts under the Biden Administration indicate that the federal government has refocused its attention on PFAS regulation and is taking a broader approach under several federal environmental laws, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA, colloquially referred to as “Superfund”), the Resource Conversation and Recovery Act (RCRA), the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the Clean Water Act (CWA), and the Clean Air Act, in addition to TSCA. The results of these efforts, which could lead to the development of national standards that allow for more consistent compliance approaches by the regulated community, remains to be seen. Several recent federal PFAS regulatory initiatives of the Biden Administration and legislation introduced by the new Congress are discussed below.

Originally published in the Daily Journal - May 26, 2021.

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