At Hessian & McKasy we continuously track emerging environmental issues. With an emerging issue such as PFAS, also known as "forever chemicals," clients are well advised to determine how PFAS may impact current and future operations.
States across the country are addressing PFAS impacts in a variety of ways. In February 2021, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) released its PFAS Blueprint. The PFAS Blueprint is the culmination of the MPCA's efforts to protect the environment and public health from harm caused by PFAS "forever chemicals" that have been a growing cause for concern among regulators in recent years. More information regarding the nature and concerns surrounding PFAS chemicals can be found here in our blog.
A key feature of the MPCA's PFAS Blueprint is the identification of ten issue areas for which additional research and guidance are needed. These areas include remediating PFAS contaminated sites, managing PFAS in wastewater discharges and wastes, preventing PFAS pollution, quantifying PFAS risks to human health, limiting PFAS exposure from drinking water, and limiting PFAS exposure from food. The PFAS Blueprint further outlines strategies the agency believes Minnesota should consider when addressing PFAS contamination.
The Minnesota PFAS Blueprint is one of the most comprehensive guidance documents regarding PFAS that has yet been issued in the U.S. and will likely influence regulatory efforts in other states. The Biden administration has also signaled that PFAS issues will receive greater priority at the federal level, which suggests increased regulatory and enforcement activity in the coming years.
To accomplish these goals, the Blueprint lays out proposed legislative actions for 2021, including the designation of PFAS as a "hazardous substance" under the Minnesota Environmental Response and Liability Act (MERLA), additional investigations of PFAS groundwater plumes down-gradient of closed landfills, and the establishment of routine PFAS monitoring in fish. While legislative action is still forthcoming, the Blueprint provides a glimpse as to the likely future regulatory environment in Minnesota. Minnesota has exercised its authority to require the investigation and cleanup of PFAS impacted sites. For example, if PFAS is considered a "hazardous substance," the state will have additional power and authority to compel polluters to cleanup sites contaminated with PFAS or reimburse the state for its own remediation efforts. The 2021 legislative session will conclude soon. It is unclear how many of the legislative proposals will be enacted into law. It is clear that in future years the MPCA will resubmit these proposals.
Regardless of the status of legislative action, the MPCA is actively integrating PFAS into a number of regulatory programs. Companies are well advised to take steps now to understand how PFAS may impact their operations.
The attorneys at Hessian & McKasy represent clients before state and federal agencies and practice in the areas of environmental, real estate, litigation and administrative law Attorney Joseph Maternowski is an experienced attorney with over 35 years of representation of clients. Joe assists clients with audits of their operations. He also assists clients on sites that have been impacted by releases of PFAS, TCE and PCE. Thanks to associate Joseph Reutiman for his assistance in preparing this article. Please see the disclaimer at the bottom of this page related to limitations on this blog and legal advice.
For additional information please contact:
Joseph G. Maternowski
Hessian & McKasy, PA
T: (612) 746-5754