Local water utilities are worried about getting hit with lawsuits, and high cleanup costs are stepping up their lobbying of Congress as lawmakers move to Regulate forever chemicals found in drinking water. The bill, the PFAS Action Act of 2021, has garnered bipartisan support and two Michigan lawmakers, Reps. Debbie Dingell, a Democrat, and Fred Upton, a Republican, are planning to bring the measure to the House floor for passage later this week. The legislation would direct EPA to Regulate two of the most studied types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances in drinking water. It would designate those two chemicals as hazardous substances, which would kick-start federal cleanup standards.
Water utilities representing local governments are also amplifying their mobilization on the regulation of the forever chemicals, which are linked to multiple health problems such as high cholesterol, thyroid disease, and testicular and kidney cancer. Mike Keegan, a regulatory analyst at the National Rural Water Association, which is a trade group that represents local water utilities in rural areas across all 50 states, said that the water utilities are not responsible for PFAS in drinking water. Keegan said that the legislation, H.R. 2467, would make water utilities in rural areas financially liable if a maximum contaminant level for the chemicals is put in place by EPA.
He added that some of those water utilities might not be able to afford the treatment technology required to remove the PFAS. The bill does provide a $200 million grant to water utilities and wastewater facilities to treat PFAS over four years, but Keegan said water utilities would need more funding than the grant provides.
He said that We want to protect the public from PFAS; we want all that. But when you get into the mechanics, what they are doing is passing on the liability to the public. Chemical companies such as DuPont, Chemours, Dow Chemical, and 3M along with other businesses, used the ubiquitous chemicals to make nonstick cookware such as Teflon, waterproof clothing, ski wax, Scotchgard, and other consumer products.