Soon after the Biden Administration took office, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued a Strategic Roadmap highlighting the many ways it planned to “research, restrict, and remediate” per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”) during the Administration’s first term.  Among the most significant objectives of the “restrict” and “remediate” portions of the Roadmap were plans to designate certain PFAS as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (“CERCLA”); to establish federal drinking water standards for certain PFAS under the Safe Drinking Water Act (“SDWA”); to develop standards under the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) for wastewater discharges of PFAS from certain industries; and to use authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (“TSCA”) to ensure “rigorous reviews and appropriate safeguards” of new PFAS production and to issue orders imposing “rigorous safety requirements” as a condition of allowing significant new uses of existing PFAS.

EPA is expecting a landmark year in its efforts to “restrict” and “remediate” PFAS.  According to a recently issued Progress Report on the Roadmap, proposed rules to designate certain PFAS as “hazardous substances” under CERCLA and to establish federal drinking water standards for certain PFAS are both expected to be finalized in “early 2024” (see here for a previous post regarding the proposed CERCLA rule). The Progress Report also states, as initially announced in January 2023, that EPA plans to propose new standards for wastewater discharges from landfills, including PFAS, though a timing estimate was not provided. 

The Progress Report also comments on two orders that EPA issued on December 1, 2023, pursuant to its authority under TSCA. The orders, issued to Inhance Technologies LLC (“Inhance”), directed Inhance not to produce certain PFAS that were created in the production of plastic containers manufactured by the company.  In the Progress Report, EPA indicates that these orders were consistent with the objectives of the Roadmap. Inhance has appealed EPA’s orders to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Court has agreed to stay the orders and hear the case on an expedited basis.