As students around the country journey home for Thanksgiving break before final exams, EPA has reported on its progress implementing its ambitious PFAS road map. It was just over a year ago that EPA unveiled that road map and many, including me, were skeptical about whether EPA would meet its many milestones specified in the road map (see insights.mintz.com/post/102h8ro/epas-ambitious-pfas-road-map-is-out-how-lost-will-we-be-when-epa-reaches-its-m).
EPA reports that it will finalize its drinking water standard for certain PFAS by the end of this year, almost a year ahead of the schedule proposed in the road map. And EPA also reports that it "intends to take final action" to list two of the hundreds of "forever chemicals" known collectively as PFAS, PFOA and PFOS, as hazardous substances under Federal law by the end of 2023 which would be only a bit later than the "summer 2023" milestone proposed in the road map 13 months ago.
Giving credit where it is due, EPA's report also covers its progress sharing the $11.7 billion dedicated to dealing with PFAS in drinking water by President Biden and Congress in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
When EPA released its road map I wondered aloud whether "Congress [would] provide the mind-numbing funding necessary to implement [the] ambitious plan." The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law went a long way toward answering that question. Given that PFAS are already ubiquitous in our environment and still widely used, filtering them out of our drinking water without litigation wrangling over who should pay for that filtration makes all the sense in the world. Congress and the President have made that possible, at least for now.
Of course there is still more to be done for EPA to address the regulatory vacuum currently filled by many states, and the courts, but EPA's progress report is worth reading and Congress and EPA deserve a very high grade for their PFAS progress over the past year.
Among the upcoming milestones the report highlights are EPA’s plan to propose a national drinking water standard for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) -- the two most-studied PFAS -- by the end of the year, a plan to take final action on the Superfund designations of these two chemicals in 2023, efforts to undertake various steps to reduce upstream water discharges of PFAS, and work to address PFAS in biosolids.