Chris Tavenor, Staff Attorney, April 20, 2021
Today marks the three-year anniversary of the OEC’s submission of a formal request, known as a Petition for Rulemaking, for the United States EPA to create standards limiting PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) in our waterways. When we submitted, we knew we faced a hostile federal administration. But I’m not sure our team fully expected how the story surrounding PFAS would shift over the next three years.
Since 2018, addressing these man-made chemicals has taken center stage at the federal and state level. From bad actors caught dumping PFAS into rivers to military bases’ legacy PFAS continuing to impact the drinking water of millions of Americans, the public has become much more aware of the problem.
Moreover, the science has become more certain about the dangerous impacts of PFAS to human health and the environment. While the framework for our Petition still stands and while our conclusions are still correct, they are now supported by vastly more data.
Despite increasing data on the dangers of PFAS, the U.S. EPA leadership under the Trump Administration ignored our Petition for Rulemaking and the calls for action from many other advocacy groups.
While the agency paid lip service to action on PFAS, implementing a national “PFAS Action Plan” and encouraging states to take some level of action toward PFAS clean-up, the actual regulatory work generally stalled. The U.S. EPA made commitments regarding setting limits for PFOA, PFOS, and other specific PFAS chemicals, but it never took concrete and long-lasting action.
And throughout it all, they buried our Petition for Rulemaking, not even providing a public response or listing the Petition on their website.
In January 2021, following the November 2020 election, President Joe Biden turned over a new page at the U.S. EPA. The new administration readily admits that over the past four years, the agency simply stopped providing public information regarding petitions for rulemaking received.
We are excited by the promise of new leadership on PFAS remediation under the Biden Administration and U.S. EPA. This is the opportunity to finally take action on PFAS. Join us in reminding the agency of the urgent need to implement stringent criteria protecting our waterways and our drinking water from PFAS under the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.
The science was certain in 2018. The science is unequivocal in 2021. There should be no reason to delay.
The agency must grant the requests in our Petition for Rulemaking in order to protect Americans and Ohioans from the dangers of PFAS.
Take action with us! We are submitting a letter to the U.S. EPA reminding its leaders of the OEC’s Petition for Rulemaking and of their opportunity to make up for the mistakes of the past administration. Add your name to the petition and join us in telling the EPA to protect waters nationwide from PFAS.