Congress Introduces “Forever Chemicals” Phase-Out Legislation

On April 18, 2024, Congressional Democrats introduced the Forever Chemical Regulation and Accountability Act (FCRAA) which would give manufacturers 10 years to phase out production of non-essential per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as defined by the PFAS Act of 2019, also known as “forever chemicals.” The FCRAA would also require manufacturers to eliminate all PFAS emissions from their facilities.  

PFAS chemicals are found in some products manufactured by the printing industry. Because of their grease and water-resistant properties, apparel, textiles, and food packaging products are typically considered “covered products” in legislation. The most common applications of PFAS are for printing inks and coatings as they are used as slip additives that improve the rub resistance of the dried film. For these reasons, print service providers and suppliers should examine whether PFAS may be found in their products or supply chain and see how they can be replaced.  

Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) of the House Appropriations Committee, introduced companion versions of the Forever Chemical Regulation and Accountability Act in their respective Congressional chambers. The Senate bill, S.4187, has been referred to the Environment & Public Works Committee while the House companion, H.R.8074, has been referred to five different House committees: (1) Energy and Commerce; (2) Oversight and Accountability; (3) Science, Space, and Technology; (4) Transportation and Infrastructure; and (5) Armed Services. 

As written, the bill would require a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) study to review PFAS’ persistence, bioaccumulation, and human health risks. NASEM also would be tasked with identifying current PFAS uses and give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance on classifying essential or non-essential uses. EPA would use that guidance to require what NASEM designates as “non-essential” to be phased out. 

The bill would set a four-year deadline to eliminate non-essential uses of PFAS in certain classes, and a 10-year national deadline to eliminate non-essential PFAS uses in all non-essential classes, while providing exemptions for currently unavoidable and certain critical purposes. The bill provides a petition process “to designate the use of PFAS as “essential or non-essential” and the determination to grant or deny a petition would be based on the best available science.  

The bill would increase oversight, reporting and recordkeeping under section 8(a)(7) of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). For example, PFAS manufacturers and users would be required to report on non-essential uses of PFAS and viable alternatives. EPA would be mandated to make the reports public, and manufacturers and users would be required to make public their 10-year phase-out plans for non-essential uses of PFAS. 

Last November, EPA issued a final rule under TSCA requiring that manufacturers, including importers, of PFAS or PFAS-containing articles, report information on uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards related to the chemicals dating back to 2011. However, that rule only requires manufacturers to report once. The FCRAA would require companies to report updates yearly at the federal level. 

One section of the bill aligns with EPA’s newly designated perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS) as “hazardous substances” under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund law). This first-ever rule will boost regulators’ ability to order cleanups and recover costs for PFAS. Similarly, the FCRAA updates bankruptcy provisions to prevent companies from declaring bankruptcy to evade PFAS clean-up responsibility. 

Under FCRAA, if a manufacturer is found to have at least one product containing PFAS, they are subject to potential civil lawsuits. According to the legislation, any citizen may bring civil action on their own behalf against any manufacturer alleged to be in violation of the Act. The Administrator of the EPA may also bring a civil action against a manufacturer in the district court in which the violation occurred. The Administrator may also issue an order and impose a civil penalty for any past or current violation. 

The FCRAA would update CERCLA to place a deadline on filing a lawsuit for newly designated hazardous substances, like PFAS. The Act would require the suit be filed by either: the date on which it was designated as a hazardous substance, or when the plaintiff knew or reasonably should have known of their injury related to the substance, whichever is later.  

The full-text of the 107-page bill is available here. A section-by-section summary of the bill is available here. 

The Government Affairs team will provide updates as the legislation makes its way through the committees. 

In this article, Stephanie Buka, Government Affairs Coordinator, PRINTING United Alliance, addresses the Forever Chemical Regulation and Accountability Act of 2024. More information can be found at Business Excellence-Legislation or reach out to Steph should you have additional questions specific to how these issues may affect your business:    

To become a member of the Alliance and learn more about how our subject matter experts can assist your company with services and resources such as those mentioned in this article, please contact the Alliance membership team: 888-385-3588 / 

Stephanie Buka Government Affairs Coordinator

Stephanie Buka is the Government Affairs Coordinator for PRINTING United Alliance. In this role, she supports Ford Bowers, CEO, the Government Affairs team, and coordinates efforts with lobbying firm, ACG Advocacy. She manages all aspects of grassroots advocacy campaigns, including facilitating timely call-to-action alerts and updates to The Advocacy Center on key federal and state legislative issues. As a member of the Office of Corporate Communications, Buka manages the content and audience building responsibilities for the Government Affairs team. She is also responsible for the administration of the Alliance's political action committee, PrintPAC.

Prior to joining the Alliance, Buka served as a senior legislative researcher, and later as a constituent services coordinator, for the 15-member legislative body representing 1.3 million residents of Allegheny County, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In addition to drafting legislation and addressing constituent concerns, Buka cultivated strong relationships with appointed and elected officials at the local, state, and federal levels of government.

Buka holds a master’s degree in Public Policy and Management from the University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA). She also earned a master's degree in Criminology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, along with a Certificate in Forensic Science and Law from Duquesne University.