Legislative & Regulatory Update
Biosolids regulations: The environment ministry has updated its overarching environment law, and regulations related to it are being updated and integrated. This includes the regulations for the use of fertilizing residuals, such as biosolids and paper mill residuals. More...
PFAS screening levels: Maine DEP has adopted - and the Legislature has approved - new Chapter 418 regulations that pertain to residuals that are placed on land but not for agronomic purposes (such as dredged sand). These regulations contain a new Appendix A table that lists trace contaminants and new screening levels. NEBRA has grave concerns about the inclusion of PFAS for the first time in this screening table and has argued that modeling of PFAS behavior in soils is challenging because of lack of adequate data. While Chapter 418 does not apply to biosolids and other residuals used for agronomic purposes, these regulations can indirectly apply to biosolids and other organic residuals. NEBRA is concerned that Maine's actions set an inappropriate precedent that other states may be inclined to follow. See NEBRA's testimony to the Maine Legislature.
PFAS: Perfluorinated compounds (PFAS) have been a focus for this NH Legislature, with more than a dozen bills considered this year and last. As this final year of the legislative term approaches its end, four much-amended PFAS bills have survived. SB 309 and HB 1101 were identified by legislators and the Governor early this year as the PFAS bills. They are intended to include the most critical actions, and the two have been amended to be very similar. One or both will likely be adopted and amended/combined in a committee of conference and become law. This will require NHDES to review and adopt maximum contaminant levels (MCLs) for drinking water and groundwater standards for PFOA, PFOS, PFNA, and PFHxS. Rulemaking would have to start by January 1, 2019. The bills also require that NHDES submit a plan, by January 1, 2020, for setting a standard for PFAS in surface waters. The bills also give NHDES the tools necessary to regulate air emissions of PFAS that impact groundwater quality and fund two new positions: a toxicologist and a human health risk assessor.
Another PFAS bill, HB 485, is about to pass the Senate and then will be held aside as a back-up option, if SB 309 or HB 1101 do not become law. HB 485 has similar objectives as the other bills, but is not as well written and provides less flexibility.
SB 240 would require NH DES to have monitoring of private wells; it is a vague and inappropriate bill that NEBRA and other water quality professional groups, as well as Farm Bureau and the NH Municipal Association, have opposed.
AD: HB 4303, which combines the intent of two other bills, has passed the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, & Energy. The bill would exempt anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities located on farms from net metering caps and doubles their credits. The bill does not address municipal AD facilities. It is now before the House Ways and Means Committee.