You Can’t Get Fooled Again

EPA Sprints to Keep PFAS Rules Safe

You Can’t Get Fooled Again – by John Lovie – Mostly Water (

Why the rush?

In 2016, the EPA figured that it would have plenty of time during the Hilary Clinton administration to complete rulemaking work started during the Obama administration. It was not to be. One of the projects that languished for the next four years was the development of new rules for PFAS in drinking water and toxic cleanup. But it’s not enough just to complete the rules under the current administration. The Congressional Review Act allows an incoming congress to void rules released in the final sixty working days of the previous congress. That “look back” period could begin as soon as early May, depending on the as yet unknown dates of recesses, so federal agencies are rushing to to get rules on the books before the deadline.

This is not a hypothetical risk. In 2000 in the final days of the Clinton Administration, the EPA lowered the limit for arsenic in drinking water from 50 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb. In 2001, George W Bush’s new EPA head, Christine Whitman, rescinded that rule. It was ultimately reinstated after public uproar and action in Congress. At the end of this administration, the EPA is following George W Bush’s own inimitable advice:

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

George W Bush

The rule on PFAS in drinking water was released last week and is the focus of this week’s newsletter. A rule on formally listing some PFAS compounds under CERCLA, better known as the Superfund law, is expected this week.