Summary: H.R.535 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Reported to House, Part I (01/02/2020)

PFAS Action Act of 2019

This bill revises several environmental laws and requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, commonly referred to as PFASs. These substances are man-made and may have adverse human health effects. A variety of products contain the compounds, such as nonstick cookware or weatherproof clothing.

(Sec. 2) The bill designates certain PFASs as hazardous substances, thereby requiring remediation of releases of PFASs into the environment. Within five years, the EPA must determine whether the remaining PFASs should be designated as hazardous substances, individually or in groups.

(Sec. 3) The EPA must require that comprehensive toxicity testing be conducted on all PFASs. These rules shall require the development of information by any person who manufactures, processes, or intends to manufacture or process a PFAS. The bill also provides guidelines for the development of these rules, including the methodologies and protocols to be used.

The bill revises when a PFAS may be exempt from testing or information submission and requires the EPA to publish a list of all exempt substances.

(Sec. 4) Currently, unless requirements for an exemption are met, persons planning to manufacture a chemical substance not listed on the EPA’s inventory list or manufacture or process a chemical substance for a significant new use must comply with certain notification requirements. The bill prohibits PFASs from being exempted from these requirements.

For five years, the EPA shall prohibit the manufacture, processing, and distribution of a PFAS not listed on the EPA’s inventory list or the manufacture or processing of a PFAS for a significant new use.

(Sec. 5) The bill requires the EPA to promulgate a national primary drinking water regulation for certain PFASs.

The EPA must publish a health advisory for a PFAS not subject to a national primary drinking water regulation.

(Sec. 6) The EPA must include certain PFASs in the list of unregulated contaminants to be monitored by specified public water systems and to be included in the national drinking water occurrence database. The PFASs to be included are those for which a method to measure the level in drinking water has been validated by the EPA and are not subject to a national primary drinking water regulation.

For public water systems serving fewer than 10,000 persons, the EPA shall pay the cost of testing and laboratory analysis for the required monitoring and may waive specified monitoring requirements for systems that do not have sufficient laboratory capacity.

(Sec. 7) The bill prohibits the EPA from imposing financial penalties for the first five years for a violation of a national primary drinking water regulation with respect to PFASs.

(Sec. 8) The bill expands the drinking water state revolving fund program to include funding to address emerging contaminants, with a focus on PFASs. No less than 25% of the funds shall be used to provide grants to small and disadvantaged communities.

(Sec. 9) The bill adds specified PFASs to the Toxics Release Inventory. Entities subject to the requirements of the Toxics Release Inventory Program are required to report information related to their handling of chemicals included in the Toxics Release Inventory.

The bill also establishes a time line for the determinations on additional PFASs for inclusion on the Toxics Release Inventory.

(Sec. 10) The EPA must require persons who have manufactured PFASs at any time since January 1, 2011, to submit a report including specified information, such as the total amount of each substance manufactured or processed.

(Sec. 11) The bill directs the EPA to take final action on the proposed rule entitled “Long-Chain Perfluoroalkyl Carboxylate and Perfluoroalkyl Sulfonate Chemical Substances; Significant New Use Rule.”

(Sec. 12) The bill requires the EPA to publish interim guidance on the destruction and disposal of PFASs and materials containing these substances.

(Sec. 13) The EPA must establish a grant program to assist community water systems with the costs associated with treating water contaminated by a PFAS.

(Sec. 14) Upon state request, federal departments or agencies must expedite cooperative agreements with states to address PFAS contamination, or suspected PFAS contamination, of drinking water, surface water, groundwater, land surface, or subsurface strata (e.g., underground rock or soil) originating from a federal facility. The cooperative agreements must meet or exceed the most stringent of specified standards.

(Sec. 15) In relation to the regulation of toxic air pollutants, the EPA must (1) issue a final rule adding PFASs to the list of hazardous air pollutants, and (2) revise the list of air pollution sources within 365 days after issuing the rule to include categories and subcategories of major sources and area sources of PFASs.

(Sec. 16) The EPA must regulate the disposal procedures for materials containing PFASs or aqueous film forming foam. For criminal penalty purposes, materials containing PFASs shall be considered hazardous waste.

(Sec. 17) The bill requires the EPA to (1) revise the Safer Choice Standard of the Safer Choice Program to identify the requirements that pots, pans, or cooking utensils must meet in order to be labeled with a Safer Choice label, including a requirement that pots, pans, or cooking utensils do not contain a PFAS; or (2) establish a voluntary label available for use by any manufacturer of any pot, pan, or cooking utensil that the EPA has reviewed and found does not contain any PFASs. The Safer Choice Program helps consumers and businesses find products with safer chemical ingredients through Safer Choice labels.

(Sec. 18) Finally, the EPA must issue guidance on minimizing the use by first responders of firefighting foam and other related equipment containing any PFASs, without jeopardizing firefighting efforts.