3M Challenge Renders Michigan's Chemical Pollution Standards Invalid

Aug. 24, 2023
The long-term consequences of the decision remain uncertain for the drinking water standards

An article in Bloomberg Law notes that Michigan's strict standards on forever chemical pollution are in jeopardy following a ruling by a Michigan appellate court. The court found that the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE) violated the state's Administrative Procedures Act when implementing drinking water standards targeting per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The regulators failed to calculate the potential costs of cleaning up groundwater contamination caused by the targeted chemicals. This decision comes after 3M challenged the regulations, which could lead to significant cleanup costs for companies like Wolverine World Wide, Georgia Pacific and DuPont if their chemicals are deemed responsible for groundwater pollution.

The court's majority opinion, written by Judge Christopher M. Murray, argued that EGLE's failure to estimate cleanup costs violated the law, rendering the rules invalid. Environmental advocates expressed concerns about the ruling hindering efforts to ensure safe drinking water and called for an appeal. The long-term consequences of the decision remain uncertain, including whether EGLE will need to redo the rulemaking process or issue a new cost estimate to address the procedural violation. EGLE intends to appeal the decision to the Michigan Supreme Court, while 3M emphasized its support for scientifically backed fluorochemical regulation.