EPA Releases PFAS Strategic Roadmap, Commits to Numerous Regulatory and Technical Goals Through 2024

On Monday, October 18, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) released its Strategic Roadmap for PFAS (per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances). The Strategic Roadmap outlines a number of key actions EPA intends to take over the next three years, including rulemakings and technical reviews that will involve a number of the Agency’s offices. EPA’s Strategic Roadmap builds on the work of EPA’s Council on PFAS, convened by EPA Administrator Michael Regan in April 2021.

Significant key actions and priorities identified in the Strategic Roadmap include:

  • Setting a national primary drinking water regulation for two common PFAS—PFOA and PFOS (perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid)—under the Safe Drinking Water Act. EPA expects to release a proposed rule in Fall 2022 and a final regulation in Fall 2023. This would be the first nationwide enforceable drinking water standard for any PFAS.
  • Proposing to designate PFOS and PFOA as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), requiring facilities to report PFOS or PFOA releases that meet or exceed the applicable reportable quantity. EPA expects to prepare a proposed rule by Spring 2022 and a final rule by Summer 2023. Additionally, EPA expects to issue an advance notice of proposed rulemaking on whether to similarly designate other PFAS, PFAS precursors, or subgroups of PFAS as hazardous substances under CERCLA. The Agency plans to release this advance notice in Spring 2022.
  • Establishing a timeline for action on Effluent Limitations Guidelines (ELGs) under the Clean Water Act for the nine industrial categories found in EPA’s 2021 PFAS Action Plan as well as landfills. EPA expects to propose rules to restrict PFAS discharges for certain industrial categories where it has data to do so, including organic chemicals, plastics, and synthetic fibers (proposed rule expected by Summer 2023), metal finishing, and electroplating (proposed rule expected by Summer 2024). EPA also proposes using existing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System authority under the Clean Water Act to reduce PFAS discharges and impose monitoring requirements at facilities where PFAS is expected or suspected to be present in wastewater and stormwater discharges.
  • Evaluating decisions made by EPA under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) New Chemicals program regarding PFAS and addressing those previous decisions the Agency believes to be insufficiently protective of human health and the environment. EPA also plans to issue TSCA significant new use notices for certain PFAS.
  • Conducting and supporting new technical research on current and emerging PFAS treatment, remediation, destruction, disposal, and control technologies as well as research on detecting and measuring PFAS in the environment.
  • Publishing a final toxicity assessment for “GenX chemicals” (hexafluoropropylene oxide dimer acid and its ammonium salt). EPA is developing similar toxicity assessments for five other PFAS—PFBA, PFHxA, PFHxS, PFNA, and PFDA. EPA will use these toxicity assessments to issue nonenforceable and nonregulatory drinking water health advisories under the Safe Drinking Water Act for GenX chemicals and PFBA (expected by Spring 2022). The Agency will review and issue similar health advisories for other PFAS as toxicity assessments are published.
  • Assessing the sources of PFAS in air emissions, developing stack emissions and ambient concentrations of PFAS, developing mitigation technologies, and understanding fate and transport of PFAS air emissions to evaluate whether certain PFAS should be listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act (initial assessment expected by Fall 2022).

This ambitious Roadmap reflects EPA Administrator Regan’s focus on PFAS, an issue he addressed in depth while the head of the North Carolina environmental agency.

This post is as of the posting date stated above. Sidley Austin LLP assumes no duty to update this post or post about any subsequent developments having a bearing on this post.