Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, better known as PFAS, are a group of chemicals that lawmakers in Maine and beyond are grappling to understand.

This group of chemicals includes thousands of differing compounds. Misunderstanding of the properties of these varied chemical compounds, combined with regulatory overreach, threatens the development of products that society has come to rely on and for which, in many cases, alternatives are not readily available.

These chemical compounds are complex. Here in Maine, the proposed regulatory framework for PFAS compounds does not recognize any distinction between these chemicals and attempts a one-size-fits-all approach that does not protect the compounds’ essential uses.

Maine became one of the first states in the nation to pass a class-wide ban on all new products containing substances categorized as PFAS by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, which will take effect in 2030, and a class-wide reporting requirement, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2023.

These new policies make Maine an outlier among other states, and they make the state a case study for why overreaching regulation poses a threat to limit readily accessible materials, materials that allow Maine to move forward on many fronts.

Since the implementation of these new policies, the Maine Department of Environmental Protection has been overwhelmed and has yet to finalize the implementation of regulations for the program that took effect at the beginning of the year. The DEP is inundated with comments it has been receiving from the regulatory community and has granted more than 2,000 individuals and groups a six-month extension on the requirements.


For Maine, the need for amendments is forthcoming because of the initial legislation’s overly broad definition of PFAS compounds and the local industries that would be negatively impacted by a blanket ban on all materials containing these compounds.

Maine’s initial approach can and should be corrected. It oversimplifies an incredibly complex issue, while other states have looked to Maine for ways to put in place a responsible framework for regulation.

In New Hampshire, for example, the House Committee on Commerce and Consumer Affairs voted unanimously not to move forward with a similar reporting requirement citing the difficulties being experienced in Maine as a reason.

With federal legislation already in the works, states that have or are considering reporting requirements and bans on all PFAS compounds are acting prematurely, and their efforts will be duplicative of the federal rulemaking that is expected to be completed this year and a waste of state resources. The consistency of PFAS regulations across the nation will prevent an unmanageable patchwork of reporting requirements and prohibitions on products.

Maine regulators who voted in favor of the class-wide approach underestimate the cost of implementing these PFAS regulation programs and fundamentally misunderstand the nature of PFAS compounds.

Maine’s one-size-fits-all approach does not consider the thousands of substances being categorized as PFAS that we rely on in our daily lives: MRI machines, semiconductors, solar panels and electric vehicles – these are only a few examples of technologies that exist because of PFAS compounds.

When defining PFAS, Maine needs to understand that the chemical compounds being classified as PFAS are not all the same. Without that fundamental understanding, we go back in time and lose innovative products that protect our health and quality of life.

The best step forward for Maine would be to take a step back from the one-size fits-all state regulatory approach that is undermining critical industries and the daily lives of Americans.

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