From Wateronline.com. Full story here
The White House has reportedly taken steps to diminish a rule proposed by the U.S. EPA to curb the presence of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), one of the country’s most prevalent and contentious drinking water contaminants.
According to communications between the White House and EPA, the former stepped in as the EPA attempted to establish regulations that would curb the presence of harmful PFAS in the country, industrial substances that have found their way into source water and lead to significant health issues when consumed.
“The White House repeatedly pressed the agency to agree to a major loophole that could allow substantial imports of the PFAS-tainted products to continue, greatly weakening the proposed rule,” the Associated Press (AP) reported. “The rule is one of the few concrete steps that the Trump administration has taken to deal with growing contamination by PFAS industrial compounds.”
The new EPA rule was intended to establish oversight over the import of products that use PFAS that were supposed to be phased out of U.S. manufacturing as of 2006. Some other parts of the world still make products with those PFAS.
“In addition to the safe harbor loophole, another change sought by the White House would raise the technical bar for EPA to consider blocking any of the tainted products,” per AP. “The agency agreed to rewrite the rule to include a third White House request, narrowing the range of imported products that would fall under the rule.”
The correspondence was obtained by Delaware Senator Tom Carper, who added that this White House action was led by a former chemical industry executive who now serves on President Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers, Nancy Beck. Carper has charged the White House with conducting unusual intervention in attempting to curb the PFAS regulation.
It is likely that the final rule, including changes pushed for by the White House, will be finalized in the next few months. Congress and the American people are eager for more regulation around PFAS, even if this version of the rule is less restrictive than it might have been.
However, as with many other initiatives around the world, the timing could be delayed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Some environmental lawyers fear that the spread of the novel coronavirus has already significantly delayed federal efforts to curb PFAS contamination in drinking water.