Business groups want lawmakers to roll back key provisions of the state’s first-in-the-nation ban on products containing harmful forever chemicals, claiming the new law is well-intentioned but too broad, too aggressive and too costly for them to follow.

Some want more time before they have to register products sold in Maine that contain per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, manmade chemicals that federal authorities say are harmful to humans. Some small businesses say they can’t afford to test their products for PFAS.

Others want Maine to tighten up its PFAS definition even though it would exempt newer but likely still harmful formulations. They want Maine to wait for science to sort out the harmful chemicals from the harmless ones rather than enact a blanket ban on all PFAS products in 2030.

They have recruited some key Democratic allies: Senate President Troy Jackson of Allagash, who represents farmers and logging companies, and Sen. Joe Baldacci of Bangor, who represents an airplane repair shop owner who said he can’t afford to comply with the law.

On Wednesday, Baldacci said his bill, L.D. 1214, could protect both Maine’s environment and economy.

“(It) is a high-level surgical approach to help ease the burden on a regulated community, but also to achieve the goal of limiting the amount of PFAS in our land, water, food and natural resources,” Baldacci told lawmakers. “It proposes commonsense solutions to the original law.”


Baldacci came under fire during committee questioning for relying on material from the American Chemistry Council, which represents companies that manufacture forever chemicals, to justify some of the changes he wants to make in the state law.

“Do you think we can trust input from entities that have caused this crisis to help write the laws that keep people safe?” asked Rep. Maggie O’Neil, D- Saco, who is the sponsor of a bill that would give Mainers a constitutional right to a clean and healthy environment.

Some defenders of the current law noted the efforts by the tobacco, oil and chemical industries to hide the harmful health and environmental impacts of cigarette smoking, oil drilling, and PCBs, mercury and dioxins through public misinformation campaigns.

Baldacci said he believes that lawmakers have a responsibility to listen to both sides of an argument.

“I have to listen to all sides,” said Baldacci, who worked on his bill with the Bangor Region Chamber of Council. “I reviewed their literature. I reviewed the EPA’s literature. I reviewed other literature available so I can gain a broader understanding.”

Environmental groups are calling on Maine lawmakers to defend the state’s existing PFAS law.


On Wednesday, when the environment committee held hearings on a slate of PFAS-related bills, they rallied behind a bill that cuts businesses a registration break, but keeps the state’s strict PFAS definition and 2030 ban in place and funded two new state PFAS investigators.

That bill, L.D. 1537, was submitted by Sen. Henry Ingwersen, D-Arundel, whose district includes the first dairy farm in Maine to close due to PFAS contamination. It has the support of the two Democrats who co-chair the Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

One-time farmer turned environmental activist Adam Nordell of Unity urged the committee to protect the state PFAS law. The farm he bought in 2014 was contaminated with forever chemicals lurking in the sludge that the former owner had spread on the fields there decades earlier.

The farmer he bought it from would later die from a cancer linked to PFAS exposure, Nordell said.

“I can’t tell you what it’s like to live with that uncertainty as a husband, as a father,” Nordell told the committee. “I hope no one ends up in my shoes. What we regulate upstream determines what happens to community members downstream.”

Maine is on the front lines of PFAS legislation. Last year, after a string of farms connected to the state’s decades-old sludge spreading program shut down because of PFAS contamination, Maine became the first state to ban sludge recycling and PFAS in nonessential products.


To date, Maine has identified 56 PFAS-contaminated farms.

Maine was the first state to ban PFAS in nonessential products, but won’t be the last, Ingwersen said.

“We should be proud of the work we are doing for as hard as it is and for as long as it’s going to take us,” Ingwersen said. “Industry would be well served to work with the state of Maine to move away from these toxic chemicals so they can be prepared when other states follow us.”

But some Maine businesses warned lawmakers during the hearing that they would be the ones moving away – taking their jobs and tax revenues with them – if the state’s current PFAS product registration and 2030 ban remain in place.


Chris Kilgore founded his aircraft repair and sales company, C&L Aviation, in Bangor in 2010. The Australian native started with 20 workers but now employs over 250. The $100 million company already has expanded once, and recently completed construction of two new buildings.


His company services 10 different aircraft, each of which has about 400,000 individual parts, Kilgore said. It’s impossible to collect the information required about each of those parts, some of which are 30 years old and almost all of which were made outside of Maine.

Kilgore can’t afford to test every part on his own. Even if he could, there’s no lab big enough to test four million parts, each of which must be approved by federal regulators, Kilgore said. Manufacturers just laugh when he asks those he can track down if their product contains PFAS.

The state ban should only apply to a product if a PFAS-free alternative is available, he said.

“I’m embedded in Maine,” Kilgore said. “I don’t want to leave, but if I can’t operate here I would have no choice. That would really be a shame. I feel a responsibility for my 200 employees that are in Maine and wanted to try to find a way that we could work together to resolve this.”

PFAS are a group of over 9,000 manmade chemicals used since the 1950s in industrial and household products like waterproof clothing, nonstick cookware and firefighting foam. They have been linked to cancer, kidney malfunction, immune system suppression and pre-eclampsia in pregnant women.

Their long-lasting carbon-fluoride bonds break down slowly, making them durable and highly resistant to heat, corrosion, water and stains. It also means that PFAS build up over time, in the environment and people. They can be found in rivers, eggs, deer, breastmilk, blood and even rain.


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