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Oversight panel slows rule-making process for PFAS regulations

PFAS foam on lakeshore
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
Flickr http://bit.ly/1xMszCg

Former Governor Rick Snyder stirred controversy when he appointed business and industry representatives to the Environmental Rules Review Committee (ERRC), a regulatory oversight board to oversee rulemaking within the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.


Now, that board is slowing down the advancement of new drinking water standards that limit acceptable levels of chemicals from the PFAS family in Michigan’s drinking water.


The board voted to table any decision on whether to approve the new standards for another two weeks. The motion, originally brought by Grant Trigger, follows another motion brought by David Maness, who motioned to table the vote until November 21. Trigger manages cleanup operations for RACER Trust, which markets contaminated former General Motors Properties. Maness is the CEO of Maness Petroleum. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer approved a draft of the new standards on October 11, and the state is hoping to have the standards in place by summer. 

The proposed standards are as follows:

PFNA: 6 parts per trillion

PFOA: 8 ppt

PFHxA: 400,000 ppt

PFOS: 16 ppt

PFHxS: 51 ppt

PFBS: 420 ppt

GenX: 370 ppt

According to a press release issued by the governor’s office, about 2,700 public water system operators around the state would be covered under the new rule.

Scott Dean of EGLE said “EGLE is committed to providing the ERRC with answers to their questions regarding Part 201 and the Regulatory Impact Statement prior to their Nov 14 meeting.” He declined to comment on the commission or their deliberations.

Dave Fiedler is the regulatory affairs officer for EGLE. He says the committee was most concerned about the effects of implementing these rules, especially in terms of toxic site cleanup and small businesses.

“The reason they delayed making a decision yesterday is because they had some additional questions about the material that was presented in the department’s regulatory impact statement,” he said.


This document, required under the rulemaking process, is “thirty eight questions the department has to provide answers to.”


Fiedler says these questions are things like “are there federal rules out there, and if so, how do these compare with the federal rules? Is there a disproportionate impact on small businesses as a result of these rule changes. Another question deals with the cost of compliance with the rules, are they commensurate with the benefits achieved by the new rules? So there's a lot of kind of a cost-benefit analysis that has to be conducted and provided in this regulatory impact statement, so that the committee had several questions on the department's responses to those questions.”

In the end, Fiedler says, it’s not up to the ERRC about whether the new standards get passed.

“But in the end, the department does not have to make those changes if they feel as though it's not going to protect public health. [The ERRC] can delay [the process], but their proposed changes do not have to occur if we do not agree with them," Fiedler said.

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