During the past month, the Maine State Chamber of Commerce has led an effort of more than 50 organizations asking the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to delay the implementation of a law passed in July 2021. The law would require companies to report products that have had perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) intentionally added starting January 1, 2023. The group has sent a letter to Maine DEP and Governor Janet Mills asking them to extend the reporting deadline scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2023, for the reporting of a manufacturer of products for sale in the State of Maine containing intentionally added PFAS. The intent of the legislation that passed was to phase out and eventually ban PFAS in certain products for sale in the State of Maine by 2030. The impact of the reporting deadline contained within that bill will impact millions of products and thousands of companies that are based in Maine, do business in Maine, or sell products into the Maine marketplace.
Secondly, the impact of this reporting law impacts millions of products and thousands of companies doing business in Maine, yet the administrative process and notification that will accompany the rulemaking has not occurred, neither for Maine-based companies nor those not based in Maine. This could lead to a scenario where companies acting in good faith do report to the best of their ability, while other companies that are not aware of the requirements do not report. Those companies reporting, expected to be mostly Maine-based, may then be highlighted for their products that do indeed contain PFAS, regardless of whether such products are an “unavoidable use.”
Thirdly, the companies acting in good faith and who are trying to prepare to comply are already having trouble with suppliers whose products are protected by intellectual property. Protected intellectual property information will not be provided by suppliers unless they are legally ensured that their intellectual property is protected. Not only does this need to be addressed in rulemaking that has not yet begun, but the State of Maine also needs to address this issue to ensure that proprietary information protected by intellectual property rights does not make it into the public domain for the global economy and competitors to have access to.
The final concern the Chamber would like to raise is around the cost impacts this reporting will have on Maine businesses in Maine. Right now, it is estimated that the lab-approved PFAS tests will cost around $400 to $500 per test. A few of our members have shared their examples with us to truly show how this would impact businesses. A small Maine boat manufacturer knows they have one part which has PFAS added. They would then need to test all of the roughly 1,000 parts that go into the manufacturing of an engine. Testing 1,000 pieces at roughly $400 to $500 per test will be a significant amount of money that some of our small businesses will not be able to take on. Another example comes from a small business that manufactures clothes or other essential household items. These local small businesses, which are sometimes located on a downtown Main Street, will not have the resources to test all the required products under this rule. We hope the department will consider the cost impacts this testing requirement will have on all businesses in Maine, especially our small businesses. At a time when employers are dealing with record high inflation, the state needs to be extremely careful about anything that could potentially lead to a cost increase.
As background, this reporting comes from the passage of LD 1503, An Act To Stop Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances Pollution (Public Law Chapter 477), in the First Session of the 130th Maine Legislature. PFAS are in thousands of products. It has been reported that more than 9,000 PFAS exist. It isn’t just a single chemical but rather thousands of different chemical compounds. PFAS are in everyday products, from cooking products to packaging, to clothes, etc. They exist everywhere, so these last-second regulations will have a significant impact on so many of the products Mainers use to survive and function. Trying to move quickly through regulations leads to poor policy outcomes that are likely to hurt Maine businesses and consumers.
To conclude, the Maine State Chamber is specifically asking for a year-long delay in the reporting implementation. The state has waited a year to develop rules and regulations, so we should give businesses a year to comply. The intent of this legislation was to have a complete ban on PFAS products in Maine by the year of 2030. Therefore, asking for an extension until 2024 for the reporting deadline will have no impact on the original intent of the legislation.
To view related media coverage and read our full letter asking for an extension or our full letter on the draft rule, please visit our blog post. If you have any questions about our position on this crucial policy area, please contact Ben Lucas by calling (207) 623-4568, ext. 111, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.