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.
The key goals of the PFAS NECI are as follows:
- Identifying and characterizing the extent of PFAS contamination near PFAS manufacturing or use facilities, using authorities such as CERCLA, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act;
- Performing oversight of PFAS characterization and control activities at federal facilities to ensure these facilities meet all environmental obligations and serve as a model for the regulated community; and
- Continuing to address violations and alleged imminent and substantial endangerment circumstances by major PFAS manufacturers, federal facilities, and other industrial parties who significantly contributed to the release of PFAS contamination into the environment.
EPA has already taken substantial steps towards implementing this initiative by publishing proposed rulemaking to list PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA. This NECI will also focus on implementing the PFAS Strategic Roadmap and developing EPA’s enforcement priorities, focusing on major manufacturers and dischargers of PFAS, while limiting enforcement against entities where EPA believes that equitable considerations do not support EPA action (i.e. water utilities, fire departments, etc.).
EPA intends to build upon these goals in FY 2025, and may expand its activities under this NECI once additional regulations are finalized. The full memorandum discussing all six NECI’s can be read here.
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