May 18, 2020

Environmental Protection Agency Publishes Latest Perchlorate Findings

Holland & Knight Energy and Natural Resources Blog
Dianne R. Phillips
Energy and Natural Resources Blog

On May 14, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a press release concerning its work related to addressing perchlorate in drinking water. As described in Holland & Knight's June 10, 2019, client alert, "EPA Proposes Perchlorate Rule After Years of Study," the EPA has been considering regulation of perchlorate in drinking water for more than a decade. This latest announcement identifying publication of two fact sheets describing the results of its latest research — Reductions of Perchlorate in Drinking Water and Steps Water Systems Can Take to Address Perchlorate in Drinking Water — is just one step in the process, although it likely foreshadows the EPA's final decision expected soon.

Specifically, the EPA's concluding paragraph states as follows:

The EPA re-evaluated the available data on the frequency and level of perchlorate occurrence in public water systems. The EPA has compared this information to the lowest potential Maximum Contaminant Level Goal under consideration by the Agency in the June 19, 2019 proposal. The EPA concludes that there is infrequent occurrence of perchlorate at the levels of public health concern. In addition, studies show that perchlorate occurrence in the environment has decreased over time, due to several mitigation actions taken by the EPA and others. 

Under the Safe Drinking Water Act Evaluation and Rulemaking Process, EPA Administrator Andrew R. Wheeler is required to determine that regulation of the contaminant presents a meaningful opportunity for health risk reductions served by public water systems before proceeding with regulation, and he is authorized to make this determination in his sole judgment. Although there might be speculation about what he plans to do, until he issues his determination, the question remains an open one. Stay tuned.

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