MAINE, USA — Farmers, environmental advocacy groups, tribal leaders, and more are calling on state regulators to reject delaying a law that requires companies to report the use of PFAS in products sold in Maine.
The law, LD 1503, approved in 2021, is supposed to go into effect this coming January. Dozens of companies in Maine and across the country said more time is needed to test their products, and have asked the state to push back the law until January 2024.
The coalition consisting of Maine farms, wastewater treatment districts, tribal representatives, and more who are impacted by PFAS contamination sent a letter asking the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to reject delaying the reporting requirements.
The letter garnered 53 signatures, including 15 Maine-based environmental nonprofits, 28 farm businesses (including 5 PFAS-impacted farms), the Maine Water Environment Association, the Penobscot Nation Department of Natural Resources, religious leaders, and a retired bureau director for Maine DEP.
Environmental advocates said the delay would allow products with PFAS to remain on Maine shelves longer.
"We do feel that industry should have to be reporting by the starting day, this is not a surprise to them, this bill was passed nearly two years ago," Sarah Woodbury, the director of advocacy for the nonprofit Defend Our Health, said.
David Madore, the deputy commissioner for the Maine DEP, told NEWS CENTER Maine the following in a statement:
"It is important to recognize that the law requires everyone who makes a product sold in Maine to report if that product contains intentionally added PFAS, even if their product is made up of components that were produced by others and over which they have no control or knowledge of the PFAS content.
"For example, a farmer who orders produce packaging bags with their farm name printed on them would be required to disclose whether the glue, ink, or bag material contains PFAS. [The Maine] DEP is working with stakeholders, including Defend Our Health, to develop a rule to implement the new law. The department plans to propose the draft rule to the Board of Environmental Protection before the end of the year.
"[The Maine] DEP is also working with the Interstate Chemicals Clearinghouse to expand their existing High Priority Chemicals Data System to receive reports from manufacturers of PFAS in their products. Until the rule and the data system are completed, manufacturers subject to the law can find guidance on how to comply on the department’s website.
"The law specifically authorizes the department to provide an extension of the reporting deadline for a manufacturer who requests it, and the department will review those requests for each manufacturer in accordance with the law."
The law also would prohibit the sale of products made with PFAS by 2030.