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Environment & Energy Report

States File Bevy of Bills to Regulate Toxic PFAS Chemicals (1)

June 9, 2020, 8:00 AMUpdated: June 9, 2020, 9:30 PM

The coronavirus pandemic that has brought the nation to a standstill hasn’t stopped state legislatures from moving to regulate PFAS compounds, also known as “forever chemicals.”

A flurry of bills introduced in recent months shows that states aren’t waiting for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set federal standards for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. State legislators from Minnesota to Delaware have written bills that would set maximum contaminant levels for PFAS, provide funds for cleaning up drinking water, or ban the distribution of PFAS entirely.

North Carolina Floats 7 Bills

North Carolina lawmakers introduced seven bills related to PFAS since mid-May. The proposed laws are split between requiring studies on contamination, and more regulatory actions. The state is home to some of the highest levels of PFAS exposure in the country due in large part to chemical manufacturing in the state.

H.B. 1108 and S.B. 837 would create new disclosure requirements for discharges of PFAS, direct more studies of PFAS exposure, and allocate more than $90 million to PFAS mitigation and detection efforts.

H.B. 1109 would take one of the strongest actions against PFAS anywhere in the country by banning the statewide manufacture, use, and distribution of the substances and any products that contain them.

H.B. 1110 and S.B. 838 direct several state agencies to conduct studies on PFAS discharge, the effects of PFAS exposure, and the costs of contamination. A total of $600,000 would be allocated for the studies.

H.B. 1175 would require the North Carolina Commission for Public Health to establish maximum-contaminant levels for PFAS and other toxic chemicals. It would also provide $6 million in recurring funds that would allow for up to 37 full-time employees to carry out the requirements of the act.

S.B. 735 would allocate $100,000 in funds to conduct a health study measuring PFAS concentrations in people located within 100 miles of a Fayetteville, N.C., chemical plant.

Other States Respond

At least four other states also have PFAS-related bills pending in their statehouses.

A proposal in Colorado introduced last week would create a fund to identify and mitigate PFAS contamination, as well as a program to purchase and dispose of products containing PFAS. The efforts would be funded by a fee on trucks transporting fuel.

Minnesota legislators introduced three bills that would ban PFAS in food packaging and appropriate funds for the management of PFAS in land-applied biosolids: H.F. 3657, H.F. 4554, and S.F. 4499.

New York lawmakers proposed prohibiting the incineration of firefighting foam containing PFAS substances with A. 9952 and S. 7880B. The state already bans the use of such foams for training purposes.

And in Delaware, a bill was introduced that would require state agencies to develop maximum contaminant levels for drinking water contaminants, including two PFAS substances.

To learn more about actions on PFAS chemicals in the states, go to our state legislation tracker.

—With assistance from Matthew Taylor.

(Updates state tracker link with additional entries. Also removes statement that Delaware hasn't taken regulatory action on PFAS.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Wallender in Washington at awallender@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anna Yukhananov at ayukhananov@bloombergindustry.com; John Dunbar at jdunbar@bloomberglaw.com

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