22 U.S. Attorneys General Oppose 3M PFAS Settlement

by | Jul 27, 2023

Gavel and judge's desk in courtroom

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A group of 22 U.S. attorneys general are opposing a $10.3 billion PFAS settlement by 3M.

The group filed motions against the deal on July 26, 2023, in a federal district court in South Carolina, arguing that the settlement does not give water suppliers time to determine what exactly they need to mitigate PFAS contamination or how much it will cost. 3M announced the settlement in June, which will be paid over 13 years and provide mitigation to most public water providers across the United States.

The bipartisan collation of attorneys general from both states and U.S. territories is led by California’s Rob Bonta. The brief states that water providers would be bound by the settlement regardless of if they have sued 3M or tested for PFAS unless they opt-out. It also says the proposed settlement contains an indemnification clause, which shifts liability from 3M to water suppliers bound to the settlement unless providers proactively opt-out.

As such, the group says the proposed settlement is worth much less than the total agreed-upon amount.

“While I appreciate the effort that went into it, the proposed settlement in its current form does not adequately account for the pernicious damage that 3M has done in so many of our communities,” Bonta said in a statement. “I have both a moral and legal obligation to voice my opposition, and I thank the court for considering our concerns.”

3M is the leading manufacturer of PFAS in the U.S. and is facing thousands of lawsuits over the so-called forever chemicals. Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances number in the thousands and are found in a variety of materials. The chemicals resist heat, oil, and water and do not easily break down in both the environment and in humans, and are linked to many health issues.

Weeks before 3M publicly unveiled its settlement, Chemours, DuPont, and Corteva said they agreed to their own settlement at nearly $1.2 billion. None of the companies have admitted to liability as part of the settlements.

3M said in a statement to the Hill that the settlement “supports PFAS remediation funding to public water systems that detect any type of PFAS, at any level, now or in the future.”

The company has said it will stop producing PFAS by 2025.

In addition to California, attorneys general from Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, the Northern Mariana Islands, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Washington, D.C., joined the motion against the settlement.

U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel must approve the settlement.

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