EPA Takes Another Step Toward Regulation of PFAS Air Emissions

EPA Takes Another Step Toward Regulation of PFAS Air Emissions

Although not yet enforceable, the release of draft test method OTM-50 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) marks another step toward the regulation of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in air emissions, as it will facilitate the gathering of data and refinement of test methods necessary to develop air emissions standards. As part of its release, EPA Assistant Administrator for Research and Development Chris Frey noted that OTM-50 is intended to apply to chemical manufacturers, industrial users of PFAS and PFAS-destruction technologies. Its applicability is likely to broaden into other industries, however, as EPA’s understanding of PFAS in air emissions evolves. EPA also published a related FAQ.

While much of the recent focus on PFAS exposure has centered on water contamination and household products, EPA has increasingly set its sights on air emissions as a target route of exposure requiring regulation. Indeed, one of the central missions laid out in EPA’s 2021 “PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024” is to build the technical foundation necessary to regulate PFAS in air emissions.

In line with this objective, EPA released the draft test method in January to measure 30 volatile, nonpolar fluorinated compounds (VFCs), including certain PFAS, in air emissions released from stationary sources. The draft test method, titled “Other Test Method 50 (OTM-50): Sampling and Analysis of Volatile Fluorinated Compounds from Stationary Sources Using Passivated Stainless-Steel Canisters,” builds on OTM-45, a test method released by EPA in 2021 and used to measure approximately 50 polar (semi-volatile and particulate-bound) PFAS in air emissions.

The EPA summary document accompanying OTM-50 acknowledges the current lack of standardized methods to measure PFAS and VFCs in air emissions. This invites a host of issues, including “inconsistent findings, incomparable measurements, and lack of coordination between policy makers, facilities, and control technology development.” With the release of OTM-50, EPA aims to provide a consistent testing method that it believes reflects current best practices to sample and analyze certain PFAS and VFC targets from stationary sources, including vents and stacks.

EPA had indicated in December that it was aiming to release OTM-50 together with its updated, interim PFAS destruction and disposal guidance. However, the guidance remains under review by the White House Office of Management and Budget. OTM-50 may be particularly useful in measuring industrial compounds and products of incomplete combustion/destruction tied to incinerator emissions. Incineration is a method being considered by EPA as part of its interim PFAS destruction and disposal guidance.

EPA’s summary document notes that its release of OTM-50 is not an endorsement or a regulatory approval of the test method and that OTM-50 may ultimately be implemented by EPA, state or local authorities through independent actions. Better detection of air emissions through reliable testing methods, including OTM-50, will only encourage the eventual regulation of air emissions, particularly around incineration and combustion of PFAS.

Duane Morris has an active PFAS Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on your PFAS issues and initiatives. We would be happy to discuss your concerns and objectives and how new rules, regulations and rulings might apply to you.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this post, please contact  Lindsay Ann Brown or Louis C. Formisano, the authors, Sharon Caffrey, Brad A. Molotsky, Alice Shanahan,  Seth Cooley, Alyson Walker Lotman, Lori Mills or Kelly Bonner, the attorneys in our PFAS Working Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Agencies and Regulated Community Brace for Changes in Administrative Law and a Potential “Flood of Litigation”

Agencies and Regulated Community Brace for Changes in Administrative Law and a Potential “Flood of Litigation”

Recent oral argument before the Supreme Court of the United States has raised significant questions concerning the Chevron doctrine, a 40-year-old ruling that requires federal courts to defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of certain statutory provisions that Congress charged the agency with implementing. Because a majority of the Supreme Court appears inclined to overturn or at least modify that doctrine, many in the regulated community are bracing for potentially significant changes in the administration of regulatory law. Still others are warning that there may be a “flood of litigation” seeking to overturn prior decisions that relied on the doctrine. The Supreme Court’s decision on the issue is expected before July 2024.

Chevron History and the Debate

The doctrine of Chevron deference was first announced by the Supreme Court in 1984 in the matter Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 83. Pursuant to the doctrine, if Congress charges an agency with implementing a statute, and that statute is silent or ambiguous with respect to a specific issue, the court should defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of the statute as it pertains to that issue.

Proponents of the doctrine claim it fosters separation of powers because interpretation of an ambiguous statute “requires the formulation of policy.” If Congress explicitly or implicitly delegated policymaking authority to the agency, the court should defer to the reasonable judgment of the agency rather than imposing its own policy preferences. According to proponents of the doctrine, agencies are better suited to make such policy decisions because they are viewed as experts in their particular field and they are accountable to an elected president.

Opponents of Chevron, however, claim the opposite. They claim Chevron should be overturned because the doctrine violates Article III of the Constitution and the power of federal judges to interpret the law. According to them, Chevron has for years been wrongly treating legal questions as policy questions and reallocating judicial authority to the agencies. Opponents argue that, in cases where an agency is not involved, there is no question that the court has the duty to interpret ambiguous statutory provisions. Absent an express delegation of that duty to the agency, the same analysis should apply in cases where an agency is involved.

Proponents and opponents of the doctrine similarly differ on whether Chevron promotes or destroys uniformity in the law. Proponents of the doctrine claim Chevron promotes uniformity by having a singular entity―the agency―decide on the appropriate implementation of a statute. Absent Chevron, such decisions would be subject to disputes among the lower courts, creating different rules in different parts of the country for regulated parties. Opponents claim Chevron facilitates “flip-flopping,” with agency rules being subject to change each time a new administration is ushered into office.

Recent Supreme Court Argument

It appears the Supreme Court is poised to overturn or modify the application of Chevron deference. On January 17, 2024, the Court heard oral argument in two cases, Loper Bright Enterprises, Inc. v. Raimondo and Relentless Inc. v. Department of Commerce, which challenge a National Marine Fisheries Services (NMFS) rule implemented under the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The act authorizes the NMFS to require fishing vessels to carry federal observers but it is silent on the issue of whether those vessels should be required to pay the salaries of the observers. The NMFS promulgated a rule that required the vessels to pay these salaries. Plaintiffs brought suit claiming the rule exceeded NMFS’s statutory authority. Applying the Chevron deference, the district courts in each case upheld the rule and the circuit courts affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to decide whether it should overturn or modify the doctrine of Chevron deference.

During three and a half hours of oral argument, Justices Neil Gorsuch, Samuel Alito and Brett Kavanaugh all appeared to favor overturning Chevron with comments supporting the notion that Chevron violates that traditional separation of powers, impermissibly tilting the balance of power to the executive branch, and that application of the doctrine fosters instability by allowing changes “every four to eight years when a new administration comes in.” Comments from Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ketanji Brown Jackson, on the other hand, appeared to be in favor a decision that will preserve Chevron, commenting, inter alia, that deference to the implementing agency most aligns with congressional intent. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Amy Coney Barrett and Clarence Thomas were more difficult to read, expressing reservation about overturning the doctrine, particularly whether it would “invit[e] a flood of litigation.”

Implications for Overturning or Modifying Chevron

In the event Chevron is overturned, one of the biggest unanswered questions is the fate of prior regulations and decisions that relied upon the doctrine. Petitioners in Loper and Relentless argued that, under principles of stare decisis, prior decisions likely would remain intact, since the ultimate holding in those cases was the agency’s action was lawful. Moreover, if the Court decides to overturn Chevron, it could fashion a prospective ruling that leaves any past decisions in place. Not all of the justices appeared mollified by petitioners’ response to these concerns.

Obviously, it remains to be seen whether the Court will overturn, modify or affirm Chevron. However, most commentators agree that some change is in the cards, and any change is likely to usher in a period of uncertainty and challenge―especially for more complex and detailed regulatory programs, such as those implemented by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Health and Human Services, Consumer Product Safety Commission, Federal Trade Commission, Board of Immigration Appeals and Internal Revenue Service, to name just a few.

Congressional Oversight of Rulemaking

While the Supreme Court is grappling with questions of Chevron deference and separation of powers, in Congress, a group of lawmakers is considering options to expand congressional oversight of rulemaking by the executive branch. On January 9, 2024, the Government Accountability Office issued a revised report, “Options for Enhancing Congressional Oversight of Rulemaking and Establishing an Office of Legal Counsel,” that evaluates options for enhanced oversight of agency action, including creating a new Congressional Office of Regulatory Review. That report warns that increased congressional oversight of agency rulemaking will likely carry burdens of increased costs, inefficiencies and duplication of efforts.

For More Information

If you have any questions about this Alert, please contact Sharon Caffrey, Lindsay Brown, any of the attorneys in our Trial Practice Group or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

Class Action Suit Alleging Deceptive Marketing of PFAS-Containing Mascaras Dismissed in New York Federal Court

On September 30, 2023, the US District Court for the Southern District of New York dismissed a putative class action in which plaintiffs claimed they would not have purchased or paid a premium price for certain waterproof mascaras had they known of the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”).

In a 22-page opinion, the court held that plaintiffs failed to sufficiently allege that the mascaras they individually purchased actually contained PFAS, or that there was a material risk that they did; thus, plaintiffs could not establish an actual injury.

To read the full text of this blog post by Duane Morris attorney Kelly Bonner, please visit the Duane Morris Fashion,  Retail and Consumer Branded Products Blog.

EPA’s PFAS Reporting Rule Requires Data Going Back to 2011

On September 28, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its final Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Section 8(a) reporting rule. It expands reporting and recordkeeping requirements for companies that have manufactured or imported per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for a commercial purpose—whether as a chemical substance or in a mixture or article—since January 1, 2011. Entities subject to this rule will need to submit reporting forms for retrospective data either 18 or 24 months following the rule’s effective date, which is 30 days after its publication in the Federal Register.

Read the full Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

PFAS Listed in EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives

On August 17, 2023, the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (“EPA”) listed “Addressing Exposure to Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances” (“PFAS”) as one of six new National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives (“NECIs”) for FY 2024-2027. The NECIs are the issues that EPA has recognized as particularly urgent and challenging, which require additional resources and consideration on a national level.

While the EPA and State agencies have been taking actions and developing a regulatory framework to address PFAS contamination and exposure, listing PFAS as an NECI marks EPA’s intention to increase these efforts and prioritize the use of time, money and resources. Continue reading “PFAS Listed in EPA’s National Enforcement and Compliance Initiatives”

EPA Looking to Expand PFAS Substances Regulated under Superfund

2,014,777 Chemical Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

On September 6, 2022, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) had previously issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to designate two (2) specific PFAS substances, known as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) as CERCLA hazardous substances. We have previously blogged about this Notice and it can be found on our website if of interest. The comment period to that proposed rulemaking has now closed and USEPA is presently evaluating comments received.

In the meantime, however, USEPA is considering a new initiative to expand the list of Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”) regulated PFAS beyond PFOA and PFOS to include seven (7) additional PFAS, their salts and precursors and, possibly, certain categories of PFAS.

In a pre-publication notice issued by the USEPA on April 13, 2023 (to be published in the Federal Register on that same date), USEPA announced its intention to consider expansion of its CERCLA hazardous substances list developed under potentially to include seven (7) additional per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) on that list.

As set forth in the pre-publication notice, additional PFAS under consideration for regulation includes:

Perfluorobutanesulfonic acid (PFBS), CASRN 375-73-5;
Perfluorohexanesulfonic acid (PFHxS), CASRN 355-46-4;
Perfluorononanoic acid (PFNA), CASRN 375-95-1;
Hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid (HFPO-DA), CASRN 13252-13-6 (sometimes called GenX);
Perfluorobutanoic acid (PFBA) CASRN 375-22-4;
Perfluorohexanoic acid (PFHxA) CASRN 307-24-4; and
• Perfluorodecanoic acid (PFDA) CASRN 335-76-2.

Take Aways:

USEPA will also be giving consideration to the precursors to PFOA, PFOS, and other PFAS listed above as well as whether USEPA should take action to designate whole categories of PFAS based on shared characteristics among the PFAS listed in those categories.

To these ends, USEPA is seeking a variety of data sources and information to assist them is deciding whether to expand the CERCLA list. The Comment period will run until approximately July 6, 2023 (i.e., sixty (60) days from publication in the Federal Register which is anticipated on April 13, 2023).

Duane Morris has an active PFAS Team to help organizations and individuals plan, respond to, and execute on your PFAS issues and initiatives. We would be happy to discuss your concerns and objectives and how new rules, regulations and rulings might apply to you. For more information or if you have any questions about this post, please contact Lori Mills, the author, or Lindsay Brown, Sharon Caffrey, Brad A. Molotsky, Alice Shanahan,  Seth Cooley, Alyson Walker Lotman, Kelly Bonner, Sharon Caffrey or the attorney in the firm with whom you in regular contact or the attorney in the firm with whom you are regularly in contact.

EPA Now Taking Comments on Its PFAS Enforcement Discretion Policy

On September 6, 2022, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its proposed rulemaking to designate certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as Hazardous Substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA), which would have a significant legal impact across the country and create potential liability for PFAS release and/or contamination for a broad set of entities in numerous industries. Accordingly, the EPA has been developing an enforcement discretion policy and recently concluded two public listening sessions to seek stakeholder input on concerns about CERCLA enforcement for PFAS contamination. The EPA will review and consider the input received as it finalizes the CERCLA PFAS enforcement discretion policy.

Read the full text of this Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

PFAS Limits in Public Drinking Water Set Forth in Proposed EPA Rule

On March 14, 2023, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed new National Primary Drinking Water Regulation (NPDWR), which standardizes and sets the legally enforceable maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) of six per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water. The proposed regulation also sets nonenforceable maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs).

Read the full text of this Alert on the Duane Morris LLP website.

EPA to Host CERCLA PFAS Enforcement Listening Sessions

The EPA has announced that it will host two public listening sessions “to seek individual input on concerns about enforcement under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.”

According to the EPA’s announcement, the sessions will focus on “enforcement policy related to responsible parties’ financial obligations under PFAS contamination response actions.”  The input will be considered by the Agency in drafting a CERCLA PFAS enforcement discretion policy.  That policy is intended to clarify when EPA intends to use its CERCLA enforcement authorities or its CERCLA enforcement discretion, to the extent PFAS cleanup enforcement efforts occur under CERCLA.  According to the EPA:

The policy will take into account various factors, such as EPA’s intention to focus enforcement efforts on PFAS manufacturers and other industries whose actions result in the release of significant amounts of PFAS into the environment, and EPA’s intention to not focus on pursuing entities where factors do not support taking an enforcement action.

The announcement does not provide any insight into what the EPA considers to be “significant amounts of PFAS” or what other “various factors” will be considered when deciding whether to take an enforcement action.  Presumably, these factors will be discussed at the listening sessions.

These listening sessions are not intended to seek comment on EPA’s perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) hazardous substance designation rulemaking process. That rulemaking comment period has closed.  The EPA has yet to issue a final rule on the matter, although the fact that EPA is working on a CERCLA PFAS enforcement discretion policy hints that the rule may be coming soon.

The sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, March 14, 2023 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. (EST) and Thursday, March 23, 2023, from 10 a.m. to noon (EST).  The sessions will also be recorded and made available on the EPA’s enforcement webpage.

You can register for the sessions using the links on this WEBSITE.   You can also submit written remarks on or before March 31, 2023 using the links on that same page.

Check back after the session dates for a summary of the discussion!

New Jersey and PFAS Regulation — What’s Come Before and What Does 2023 Have in Store?

From 2018 through 2020, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (the Department or NJDEP) adopted a suite of new rules to address certain per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), specifically, PFOA, PFOS and PFNA, under multiple Department programs. Since that time, the Department continued to advance additional measures targeting these compounds under the auspices of its regulatory and enforcement authorities. More recently, the New Jersey Legislature has taken aim at these and other PFAS, expanding the scope of certain existing laws and introducing a collection of new bills regulating the use, detection and research of PFAS throughout the State. Here’s an overview of the current regulation of PFAS in New Jersey and what to expect in 2023.

Drinking Water Maximum Contaminant Levels

New Jersey was at the forefront of regulating PFAS in drinking water, being one of the first states to propose and adopt regulations setting a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for PFNA (13 parts per trillion (ppt)) in 2019, followed closely by the adoption of MCLs for PFOA (14 ppt) and PFOS (13 ppt) in 2020. These regulations require public water systems to routinely monitor for these contaminants, notify their customers of any violation within 30 days of determining that a violation has occurred, and report MCL violations to the public in their annual Consumer Confidence Reports.

Because the current New Jersey MCL regulations apply to public water systems only, New Jersey also expanded the testing of private wells under the Private Well Testing Act (PWTA), to address PFOA, PFOS and PFNA. The PWTA requires the testing of private potable wells prior to closing the sale of the property and also requires landlords to test private potable wells every five years and provide those test results to their tenants. As of December 2021, PFOA, PFOS and PFNA were added to the PWTA list of water quality parameters required to be tested.

New Jersey’s MCLs for PFOA and PFOS could change in 2023. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) anticipates issuing a proposed National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for PFOA and PFOS in 2023. The proposal, which is expected in March, will include a maximum contaminant level goal (which is unenforceable) and an enforceable standard, which may be an MCL or a required treatment technique. In the event the US EPA adopts an MCL for PFOA or PFOS that is lower than the standard adopted by New Jersey, the US EPA MCL will apply (as would any treatment technique that it may require). US EPA anticipates finalizing the drinking water regulation by year-end. Continue reading “New Jersey and PFAS Regulation — What’s Come Before and What Does 2023 Have in Store?”

© 2009- Duane Morris LLP. Duane Morris is a registered service mark of Duane Morris LLP.

The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

Proudly powered by WordPress