Monday Morning Briefing

Monday Morning Briefing

Wheeler says EPA “moving forward” with PFOA/PFOS regulation

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said last week that the agency is “moving forward” with developing a drinking water regulation for PFOA and PFOS, though he would not commit to a specific timeframe for when a rule would be proposed.

Wheeler’s comments came during an oversight hearing organized by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. In response to a question about when EPA expects to propose a PFOA/PFOS regulation, Wheeler said the agency “continues to work through the process for [maximum contaminant level] setting” under the Safe Drinking Water Act. He also said the agency is responding “aggressively” whenever it learns of PFAS contamination in a drinking water source but could not specifically say when a regulation would be proposed.

In February EPA proposed a positive regulatory determination to set standards for PFOA and PFOS in drinking water. Under the Safe Drinking Water Act the agency is required to propose a national primary drinking water regulation for a contaminant within 24 months of issuing the final determination to regulate, but many members of Congress have pushed for quicker action.

Other topics covered during the oversight hearing included EPA’s response to COVID-19 and its temporary enforcement discretion policy, which Wheeler defended against Democratic criticism. Administrator Wheeler’s written testimony also highlighted several aspects of the administration’s FY21 budget request, including $2 billion for the State Revolving Funds, $25 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act – which could be leveraged into $2 billion worth of direct credit assistance – and $82 million for an assortment of grants to support authorized initiatives on water system resiliency, technical assistance, lead remediation in school drinking water, the water workforce, and innovative water technologies.