Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Files Notice of Intent to Sue EPA for Unregulated PFAS-Contaminated Sewage Sludge

May 14, 2024

MOFGA continues as a national leader on the PFAS crisis

The Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) announced today its Notice of Intent (NOI) to sue the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for failure to regulate the land application of sludge contaminated with PFAS chemicals under the Clean Water Act. Farmers across Maine and throughout the country have been affected by the spreading of sludge contaminated by at least 18 different types of PFAS, for 12 of which there is sufficient scientific evidence requiring EPA regulation to protect the public. 

MOFGA has been at the forefront of addressing farmland contamination from PFAS, as several certified organic farmers courageously stepped forward to publicly address the issues they were facing with PFAS contamination. MOFGA set up a PFAS Emergency Relief Fund before the state was able to implement its own, and has successfully advocated for strong action to regulate PFAS in sludge and consumer products in Maine. 

Under a Clean Water Act provision enacted in 1987, EPA must biennially identify toxic pollutants in biosolids and adopt regulations to prevent harm to human health or the environment. In the over 35 years it has been examining biosolids for emerging threats, EPA has identified more than 250 pollutants of all types, yet has promulgated only nine sewage sludge regulations for land application. Because the EPA has been so slow to regulate PFAS in sludge, farmers across the state have had to shoulder the burden. MOFGA’s suit calls on the EPA to step up and fulfill its regulatory role.

“MOFGA stands by the farmers of Maine who have faced the challenges of PFAS contamination,” says Sarah Alexander, executive director of MOFGA. “If the EPA had been regulating appropriately, many of our farmers wouldn’t be facing the harm they are today. We demand that the EPA do the work required under the Clean Water Act and stop allowing these toxic chemicals to contaminate the U.S. food and water supply.”

With this NOI, MOFGA is putting EPA on notice that it will file suit in federal district court if EPA fails to take immediate steps to address its statutory non-compliance within 60 days.

MOFGA will join in this lawsuit against EPA with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), an organization that shines the light on improper or illegal government actions, and supports the work of other organizations. PEER submitted their NOI in February and will be working hand in hand with MOFGA as the suit moves forward. 

“We are grateful to have MOFGA joining our suit against EPA for failure to regulate PFAS in biosolids,” says PEER Science Policy Director Kyla Bennett, a scientist and attorney formerly with EPA. “The State of Maine has been a national leader on this issue, but it’s time for the EPA to do its job and ban PFAS-laden biosolids from agricultural application across the country.” 

To read MOFGA’s NOI and for more information about MOFGA’s public policy work, visit mofga.org/advocacy/take-action-on-pfas

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