Water, chemical industries challenge Biden’s rule to restrict ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

Water, chemical industries challenge Biden’s rule to restrict ‘forever chemicals’ in drinking water

Lobby groups representing water utilities, as well as the chemical and manufacturing industries, have filed court challenges to a Biden administration rule that seeks to limit the presence of toxic chemicals in drinking water.

The American Water Works Association and the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies filed a petition on Friday challenging new drinking water limits that pertain to certain chemicals in a family known as PFAS.

On Monday, the National Association of Manufacturer and the American Chemistry Council, trade groups representing the manufacturing and chemical industries, also filed a challenge to the rule.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, is the name of a class of chemicals used in waterproof and nonstick products.

These substances have become pervasive in U.S. waterways and drinking water — with the federal government estimating that its rule could limit exposure of 100 million people — and have been linked to illnesses including certain cancers.

PFAS are also nicknamed “forever chemicals” because they tend to build up in the environment instead of breaking down over time.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule requires drinking water systems to remove some of these pollutants from their systems starting in 2029, which in some cases will require the installation of expensive technology.

In a joint statement, American Water Works Association CEO David LaFrance and Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies CEO Tom Dobbins said that the rule “significantly underestimates nationwide costs.”

Some water utilities have already begun informing consumers they could see higher water bills as a result of the rule.

Dobbins and LaFrance, in the written statement, also questioned the agency’s methods for regulating mixtures that contain multiple PFAS.

Meanwhile, Linda Kelly for the manufacturers’ group said that her organization was suing “to overturn this unachievable standard and protect manufacturing operations and jobs across the country.”

However, supporters of the rule argue that it’s necessary — and say a legal challenge could leave Americans consuming dangerous chemicals.

Erik Olson, senior strategic director for health at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said that if the lawsuit is successful, “100 million people’s water will continue to be poisoned by forever toxic chemicals thanks to their water utility trade associations.”

“What’s incredibly ironic is that it’s the people paying through their water bills to pay for a water utility trade association that’s hiring fancy lawyers to sue to make their water less safe,” he added.

The EPA declined to comment.

Updated at 4:50 p.m.

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