Rural Utilities Sue 3M, DuPont Over PFAS Well Contamination

Rural water utilities are accusing 3M Co., E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. and other companies of potentially contaminating groundwater wells with firefighting foam containing chemicals that take forever to degrade.

The city of Millington, Tenn., joined by the National Rural Water Association, alleged in a complaint Tuesday that the companies developed, marketed, and sold chemicals known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, despite knowing about the environmental and health risks they posed.

California Bills Tackle Water Contamination, PFAS, Wildfire

California could one day have a quick-strike panel focused on spotting emerging contaminants in drinking water to see if they pose a danger and need immediate attention.

The state also could certify labs to increase the amount of so-called forever chemicals that can be tested for in drinking water, aquifers, lakes, and streams.

The two initiatives are among more than 300 bills relating to energy and environment policy filed by California legislators in the 2020 session. They tackle issues like water contamination, wildfires, recycling, air quality, and other matters affecting the state’s nearly 40 million residents.

Nearly Half the Country Working on PFAS Rules as EPA Drags Feet

More states are stepping up to protect people from drinking water contaminated with “forever chemicals” in the absence of federal enforcement.

Twenty-three states are writing their own guidance, regulations, or legislation that would address drinking water contaminated with per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, also known as PFAS.

The family of thousands of chemicals, once used in Teflon and Scotchgard, may cause liver tissue damage, immune system or thyroid problems and increased cholesterol levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. The substances require massive amounts of energy to fully break down, enabling them to persist in the environment, seemingly “forever.”

FDA Expands Efforts to Detect PFAS in Food

The Food and Drug Administration is expanding its own capacity to test foods for certain “forever chemicals,” a senior agency official said Monday.

Expanded federal laboratory capability should help as the Department of Defense, states, and scientific researchers increase their testing of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) near military, industrial, and other sites with a history of having used the man-made chemicals.

The additional federal resources should also help state agencies dealing with suspected PFAS contamination in food.

California Eyeing Lower Standard for Perchlorate in Drinking Water

California plans to halve the level at which water suppliers must test for perchlorate in drinking water.

The move is the first step in lowering the state’s drinking water standard for the chemical, which is used in rocket fuel, fireworks, and airbags, said Robert Brownwood, assistant deputy director in the State Water Resources Control Board’s division of drinking water.


Forever Litigated ‘Forever Chemicals’: A Guide To PFAS In Courts

Court dockets are ballooning with litigation over PFAS, a vexing family of chemicals used in many consumer and industrial products.

Some types of the man-made per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances are called “forever chemicals,” a shorthand for their ability to build up and stick around indefinitely in people and the environment.

Health risks of some types of PFAS have become clearer in recent years, prompting a rush to the courtroom by people exposed to the chemicals, utilities dealing with contamination, and shareholders facing the financial risks. Lawyers have compared the legal onslaught to litigation over asbestos, tobacco, and lead paint.

‘New NAFTA’ Offers Money for Border Sewage Fixes

Passing the new North American free trade agreement would mean millions of dollars to help upgrade sewage infrastructure on the border, say the agreement’s backers.

But an environmental group and a local organization on the U.S.-Mexico border say it’s not enough.

EPA Lead Proposal, Derided as Weak, May Be Sneakily Strong

A provision tucked within the EPA’s proposal to overhaul the way it regulates lead in drinking water—initially derided as toothless—could have far-reaching consequences for public health, municipal policies, and even real estate transactions, water industry insiders now say.

Supreme Court Won’t Review States’ Rights For Water Permits

The Supreme Court won’t review a long-running legal debate over the extent of states’ water permitting authority for major pipelines, hydroelectric dams, and other projects.

The justices on Dec. 9 declined to take up California Trout v. Hoopa Valley Tribe, a case focused on Section 401 of the Clean Water Act, which calls on states to ensure that proposals that require federal permits meet water quality standards within their borders.

Reclamation Seeks to Restore Sinking California Canal

Federal authorities are considering a plan to repair a California canal in the San Joaquin Valley that lost half its capacity to move water because of sinking ground.

Use of groundwater has caused land subsidence, affecting a 33-mile section of the Friant-Kern Canal, which supplies water to 1 million acres of farmland and more than 250,000 residents. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Dec. 3 published an environmental assessment detailing plans to repair, raise, and realign the canal, which it began building in 1949.