Policy and Legal

Policy and Legal

NAM, ACC Challenge EPA’s National Drinking Water Rule

The NAM and the American Chemistry Council yesterday filed a petition challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s first-ever national drinking water standard limiting the presence of six types of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.

What’s going on: The organizations are seeking to overturn the final rule—issued in April by the EPA—in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on the grounds that it exceeds the agency’s authority under the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 and “is arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion,” in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.

  • Under the rule, PFAS in municipal water systems are limited to near-zero levels. Systems nationwide will have three years to monitor for the chemicals and two subsequent years to install technology to reduce the compounds’ levels in the water.
  • The water systems will (and, in fact, have already begun to) sue manufacturers to cover their costs. Meanwhile, plaintiffs’ attorneys are using the standard in product liability and greenwashing suits against manufacturers.
  • PFAS are a diverse group of chemicals that have been used widely for decades due to their unique ability to douse fires and resist grease, stains and corrosion. Today they’re a key component in a wide range of critical products, from semiconductors, to the components of the electrical grid, to renewable-energy production equipment.

Why it’s problematic: The final regulation of PFAS “is wholly infeasible and threatens these vital substances’ continued application in manufacturing processes,” said NAM Chief Legal Officer Linda Kelly, adding that the agency’s rulemaking is based “on a deeply flawed cost-benefit analysis” and fails to follow Safe Drinking Water Act procedure and other statutory requirements.

  • “In many instances, there is no viable alternative for these chemicals, and companies may be forced to change plans dramatically” to follow the new rule, NAM Managing Vice President of Policy Chris Netram said in April.
  • “In everyday life, including emergency situations like a fire or operating room circumstance, there’s a real reliance on these products—it’s not just about job losses and costs but fundamental decisions that have widespread ramifications,” Netram added recently.

What should be done: The rule should be vacated as soon as possible, the NAM and the ACC told the court.

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