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Call Your Senators: PFAS Hearing This Week

Date: March 18, 2024

This week, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) will hold a hearing on the control and remediation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). As part of the hearing, the Committee will be discussing who should be responsible for covering the costs of remediating PFAS contamination.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to finalize a rule in the coming weeks that will designate certain PFAS as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as “superfund law.” Unless Congress enacts legislation to shield water, wastewater, and water recycling utilities from PFAS CERCLA liability, the designation of various PFAS as CERCLA hazardous substances will unfairly place liability burdens on passive receivers of PFAS rather than on producers of the substances.

If either of your senators sit on the EPW Committee, they will likely attend next week’s hearing. Call your senators before Wednesday, March 20 and ask them to speak in support of a PFAS CERCLA liability shield for utilities at next week’s hearing. Even if your senators do not sit on the EPW Committee, you can still take action. Urge your senators to reach out to the Committee in support of enacting a PFAS CERCLA liability shield for utilities.

How to take action:

  • Call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 to reach the office of your senators.
  • Ask for the staffer who handles water issues and tell them that you are calling about PFAS legislation. Leaving a message is fine!
  • Make the ask outlined above and explain why this is important to your organization and the communities you serve.

Additional talking points:

  • As Congress works to develop and refine PFAS legislation, it must take a “polluter pays” approach to controlling PFAS contamination.
  • Water, wastewater, and water recycling utilities provide essential public services and are not manufacturers or primary sources of PFAS.
  • Without a liability shield, utilities will be forced to divert scarce public dollars to defend against litigation from other parties seeking to make local agencies financially responsible for cleanup costs.
  • Water, wastewater, and water recycling utilities stand ready to help tackle the PFAS crisis; however, putting the liability and cost of remediation on utilities ultimately burdens the local ratepayer, and therefore, the American taxpayer, rather than the polluter.
  • EPA has stated often that it will use its discretionary authority in pursuing CERCLA enforcement actions against certain parties. However, this commitment does not account for the expansive rights of Potentially Responsible Parties under CERLCA to bring contribution litigation against other entities, such as utilities.

For more information or to prepare before a phone call, contact Greg Fogel at gfogel@watereuse.org or 805-570-3038. Thank you!

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