U.S. Senator Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) joined U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) in introducing five bills to ensure industries and municipalities are not subject to liability claims if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designates per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) compounds as hazardous substances. The covered entities in these bills either do not contribute to PFAS contamination or are required to use PFAS-containing substances through regulations. The lawmakers introduced this legislation in response to an August 2022 proposed EPA rule to designate two PFAS compounds as a hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as Superfund. This would subject any entity with PFAS contamination to potential CERCLA liability from the EPA and third parties.
Should this rule be finalized, entities such as water treatment plants, landfills, farms and ranches would be held liable for PFAS contamination they are not responsible for and entities such as airports, fuel depots and refineries that are required to test use fire suppression foam that contain PFAS would be at risk for litigation.
“PFAS contamination deserves thoughtful solutions, not broad mandates that punish businesses and public works agencies that did nothing to contribute to the contamination, such as landfills and water treatment plants,” said Senator Mullin. “The EPA’s recent decision to designate certain PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances could open waste and recycling entities to unnecessary lawsuits and ultimately harm consumers. I’m proud to support Senator Lummis’ bills to provide commonsense exemptions to entities not responsible for PFAS pollution.”
“There is no doubt we need to consider the environmental impacts of PFAS chemicals but suing entities who did not contribute to the contamination is overkill, especially considering some of these entities, such as ranches and water facilities, are just downstream receivers,” said Senator Lummis. “This is another instance of the Environmental Protection Agency overstepping its authority and putting onerous regulations on businesses in Wyoming. That is why I am introducing this suite of legislation to protect entities from frivolous lawsuits.”
Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Boozman (R-AR), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Pete Ricketts (R-NE), Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Lindsay Graham (R-SC) cosponsored this legislation.
This legislation is endorsed by the following stakeholders:
- American Farm Bureau
- US Composting Council
- Airports Council International – North America
- American Public Works Association
- Solid Waste Association of North America
- National Waste and Recycling Association
- American Association of Airport Executives
- National Association of Clean Water Agencies
- Water Environment Federation
- American Water Works Association
- National Rural Water Association
- Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies
- Waste Management
- International Liquid Terminals Association
- National Association of Water Companies
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are widely used, long lasting chemicals. Components of which break down very slowly over time. PFAS chemicals are used in some household materials, but more notably in fire suppression foams.
Because of their widespread use, PFAS can be found in the blood of people and animals and are present in low levels in a variety of food products and in the environment.
Each of the five pieces of legislation will address a certain industry targeted by superfund liability.
Agriculture PFAS Liability Protection Act
Airports PFAS Liability Protection Act
Fire Suppression PFAS Liability Protection Act
Resource Management PFAS Liability Protection Act