On Dec. 11, the House of Representatives passed S. 1790, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) conference report. The Senate followed suit on Dec. 17, bringing an end to protracted negotiations on this annual must-pass legislation. In one of their final acts, conferees agreed to provisions addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Two major provisions – designation of PFAS as Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA or Superfund) hazardous substances and requirements to promulgate PFAS drinking water standards – were left out of the bill. Their absence, and the controversy they engendered, have diverted attention from the many significant PFAS provisions that did make it into the final NDAA package. The NDAA represents Congress’ first major response to public concern about these “forever” chemicals, and the NDAA provisions signal that much more is to come from Congress on the subject of PFAS.

The NDAA PFAS provisions are focused for the most part on the Department of Defense (DOD). They require DOD to stop using PFAS in firefighting foam and other applications, and to cooperate with affected communities and begin cleaning up resources contaminated by military PFAS uses. However, two provisions have much broader application.

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Photo of Steven Barringer Steven Barringer

Steven Barringer is a member of GT’s Environmental and Government Law and Policy practice groups. Steve has a unique practice that combines substantive environmental law knowledge with deep government law and policy experience. He began his career as an attorney-adviser and Special Assistant…

Steven Barringer is a member of GT’s Environmental and Government Law and Policy practice groups. Steve has a unique practice that combines substantive environmental law knowledge with deep government law and policy experience. He began his career as an attorney-adviser and Special Assistant to the Solicitor at the Department of Interior. In private practice, Steve has represented industry clients in numerous EPA rulemakings, and defended clients in enforcement actions brought by EPA and states. He has advised companies regarding compliance with federal and state environmental laws. Steve has represented parties involved at major Superfund sites – including several of the largest Superfund sites in the United States – both in remediation settlement negotiations and cost-recovery actions. He has advised clients on international treaty obligations applicable to the transboundary movement of mercury and other hazardous wastes, and has managed local counsel examining environmental laws in Central America and Europe applicable to the transboundary movement of such wastes.

Photo of Keith E. Smith Keith E. Smith

Keith E. Smith is a trial lawyer and corporate advisor whose wide-ranging practice is focused on the defense of national class actions, products liability, environmental, toxic tort and complex commercial litigation. He has wide-ranging experience as a both an advisor and trial counsel…

Keith E. Smith is a trial lawyer and corporate advisor whose wide-ranging practice is focused on the defense of national class actions, products liability, environmental, toxic tort and complex commercial litigation. He has wide-ranging experience as a both an advisor and trial counsel for regional, national and international clients for matters including product defect liability, class action, warranty, anti-counterfeiting and brand integrity, fire, construction, sexual abuse, employee terminations, restrictive covenants, misappropriation of trade secrets, employee fraud and embezzlement, contract disputes, and general commercial litigation.

Keith has represented national and international manufacturers of chemicals compounds, plumbing products, commercial and industrial machinery, automobiles and component parts, food and food products, tobacco, consumer products, textiles, and alloy, carbon, and composite piping.

Photo of Katie P. Reed˘ Katie P. Reed˘

Katie is a Director in the Government Law and Policy Practice of Greenberg Traurig’s Washington, D.C. office. She represents clients before the House and Senate on issues related to agriculture, energy and environment, tobacco, and appropriations and provides legislative research and support on…

Katie is a Director in the Government Law and Policy Practice of Greenberg Traurig’s Washington, D.C. office. She represents clients before the House and Senate on issues related to agriculture, energy and environment, tobacco, and appropriations and provides legislative research and support on a broad range of matters.

˘not admitted to the practice of law.