President Trump Promises to Veto any Legislation Mandating PFAS Regulation

Photo: Great Lakes Now from their documentary “The Forever Chemicals.”

The House is expected to pass legislation this week that would require the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards to limit the amount of toxic fluorinated chemicals (known collectively as PFAS or forever chemicals because they do not break down) that can safely be found in drinking water.  But regardless of what Congress does, and the Senate is unlikely to pass the House bill according to a leading Republican late last night, the White House said in a statement that the President would veto any legislation because it would  “bypass well-established processes, procedures, and legal requirements of the Nation’s most fundamental environmental laws….”

Why This Matters:  So much for crystal clear waters.  The administration had promised that EPA would issue new regulations creating limits on PFAS contamination in rivers and drinking water by the end of 2019, but they failed to do so.  The President prefers to keep his promises to industry, which lobbied the White House and Republican Members of Congress against requiring water utilities and other companies from having to install technology to remove PFAS from their outflows.  Of course — it is always about what industry needs — forget the thousands of service members and their families on military installations and the 1400 communities with PFAS contaminating their water systems. Not to mention that it is found in the drinking water of nearly 1 in 3 Americans.

EPA’s Failure to Regulate PFAS

The EPA, according to the Environmental Working Group, has long ignored the PFAS problem — it first learned from 3M Company in 1998 that these chemicals are toxic, and in 2001 the Company shared with the agency internal studies documenting the health risks associated with PFAS chemicals.  In 2006 EPA’s Science Advisory Board found that PFOA was a likely human carcinogen, but still, no regulations were issued — only guidance, which it issued it issued in 2009 and established a provisional health advisory for the chemicals.  The current guidance for PFAS is no more than 70 parts per trillion of PFAS in water, but Democrats and public health groups say a lower standard is needed to protect public health.  For example, the state of New Hampshire is currently fighting to impose a standard of 12 parts per trillion (ppt) for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), 15 ppt for perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), 18 ppt for perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxs), and 11 ppt for perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA).

What’s In the Bill?

According to The Hill, the bill does several important things to fight PFAS pollution, including:

  • requiring PFAS to be covered under the hazardous waste cleanup law;
  • imposing a five-year moratorium on the development of new PFAS chemicals;
  • mandating new regulations for production and cleanup of such toxic chemicals;
  • requiring the EPA to regulate PFAS air pollution under the Clean Air Act; and
  • creating standards for the proper disposal of PFAS chemicals.

Up Next

Coal Ash Barges in India Continue to Capsize, Jeopardizing Public Health, Mangroves, Fishers

Coal Ash Barges in India Continue to Capsize, Jeopardizing Public Health, Mangroves, Fishers

Since March, five barges filled with toxic fly ash have capsized en route from India to Bangladesh, according to Rishika Pardikar last week in The Third Pole.  The fly ash, which is used to make cement in Bangladesh, is particularly harmful in river systems such as those of the Sundarbans, an area that contains a highly endangered Bengal tiger reserve and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Why This Matters: Rivers are often touted as an environmentally friendly and cheap mode of transportation – even here in the U.S. (e.g., the Mississippi River). But there are many other users who rely on these waterways in India for fishing and other livelihoods.

Continue Reading 571 words
Navajo Lack Water to Fight COVID-19 Because Coal Company Drained the Tribe’s Aquifer

Navajo Lack Water to Fight COVID-19 Because Coal Company Drained the Tribe’s Aquifer

Bloomberg News reports that Peabody Energy, the largest coal producer in the country, operated two coal mines on Navajo and Hopi reservation lands that pulled so much water from the Navajo Aquifer that many wells and springs have now run dry. This comes when water is more necessary than ever for essential hygiene since Covid-19 has hit the Navajo Nation harder than any state.

Why This MattersPeabody never replenished the aquifer water it took under a suspect agreement with the Tribes —  as much as 1.3 billion gallons of water from the aquifer annually —  and one-third of residents have no running water in the midst of the worst pandemic in generations.

Continue Reading 563 words
Clean Water Protections Under President Trump Continue to Be Eroded

Clean Water Protections Under President Trump Continue to Be Eroded

The Trump Administration’s severe rollback of the Clean Water Act’s coverage went into effect yesterday with numerous non-profits and states vowing litigation, and Colorado has already successfully pushed back implementing the new rule.  In addition, last week the administration decided not to regulate a chemical used in rocket fuel that has been linked to developmental damage ans the Massachusetts state Department of Environmental Protection failed to send federal regulators reports about the safety of watersheds required by the Act, according to the state auditor.

Why This Matters:  There is not much left of the Clean Water Act with the Trump Administration at the helm of the so-called Environmental Protection Agency.

Continue Reading 545 words