HARRISBURG – A coalition of 24 state chambers, led by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, has submitted a comment letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling for the withdrawal of a controversial water quality rule which the agency recently proposed.
In its letter, addressed to EPA Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox, the multi-state coalition raises significant concerns about the proposed rule, specifically questioning the data and methodology used in the agency’s decision to classify four additional chemical compounds as contaminants under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
While the coalition expressed support for the establishment of a comprehensive national drinking water standard for certain chemicals, its comment letter highlights several problems with the EPA’s current proposal – asserting that the costs associated with the proposed rule are substantial and likely underestimated.
The coalition cites the potential costs of implementing the proposed maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for two compounds, perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS), estimating an annualized cost of approximately $1.8 billion. This figure represents more than double the EPA’s own estimated costs provided in the agency’s economic analysis.
Consequently, the coalition warned that the implementation of this proposed rule could lead to sharp increases in household water costs (up to $1,000 per month) in communities nationwide.
The coalition letter outlines the following key concerns:
- Insufficient data on occurrence levels at the proposed maximum contaminant level.
- The introduction of a novel hazard index approach for certain chemicals, raising technical, scientific, and legal questions.
- Limited understanding of the risks associated with the proposed MCL.
- The necessity of considering costs and benefits as required by the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Moreover, the coalition indicates that the proposed rule fails to consider the costs of Superfund cleanups, given the pending CERCLA hazardous substance designation for PFOA and PFOS.
As a result, the letter requests the EPA withdraw its proposal and await the outcomes of the ongoing Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR) 5 process before proceeding with a regulatory determination. In its conclusion, the coalition letter stresses that these outsized costs are avoidable and urges the EPA to adopt a more reasonable and defensible approach.
The letter is available here and was signed by the following state chambers:
- Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Greater North Dakota Chamber
- Idaho Association of Commerce & Industry
- Illinois Chamber of Commerce
- Indiana Chamber of Commerce
- Iowa Association of Business and Industry
- Kansas Chamber of Commerce
- Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
- Maine State Chamber of Commerce
- Maryland Chamber of Commerce
- Michigan Chamber of Commerce
- Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
- Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry
- Nebraska Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- New Jersey Business & Industry Association
- New Mexico Chamber of Commerce
- North Carolina Chamber
- Ohio Chamber of Commerce
- Oregon Business & Industry
- Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry
- South Carolina Chamber of Commerce
- Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry
- Virginia Chamber of Commerce
- Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce