The PFAS Roadmap: Pathway to Environmental Justice

In October 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued its PFAS Roadmap, establishing a comprehensive, three-year plan to address the potential risks posed by this large class of manmade compounds, often referred to as “forever chemicals.” The Roadmap takes a “whole of Agency” approach to address the risks of PFAS, outlining a wide range of measures to be taken under the authority of multiple statutes, including the Clean Water Act (CWA), Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), and Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). In outlining the measures to be taken, the Roadmap also evinces a commitment to promoting and implementing environmental justice (E.J.) principles, and ensuring that disparate impacts to E.J. communities are addressed.

From inception, the Biden administration has signaled its intention to prioritize E.J. concerns in pursuing its environmental agenda. On January 27, 2021, just one week after taking office, President Biden signed Executive Order (E.O.) 14008, which, in addition to addressing climate change and clean energy matters, set forth broad E.J. objectives for the administration, declaring:

Agencies shall make achieving environmental justice part of their missions by developing programs, policies, and activities to address the disproportionately high and adverse human health, environmental, climate-related and other cumulative impacts on disadvantaged communities, as well as the accompanying economic challenges of such impacts. It is therefore the policy of my Administration to secure environmental justice and spur economic opportunity for disadvantaged communities that have been historically marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment in housing, transportation, water and wastewater infrastructure, and health care.

(E.O. 14008, Section 219.)

Building upon the objectives outlined in the E.O., the Roadmap likewise prioritizes protection of disadvantaged communities as a basic tenet of its approach, noting that many known and likely sources of PFAS contamination (including military bases, airports, industrial facilities, and waste management and disposal sites) are located near low-income communities and communities of color. E.J. concerns are to be considered in pursuing each of the goals outlined in the Roadmap, which fall into three broad categories: 1) Research; 2) Restrict; and 3) Remediate, through the establishment of specific E.J. objectives.

The “Research” goal is, “Invest in research, development, and innovation to increase understanding of PFAS exposures and toxicities, human health and ecological effects, and effective interventions that incorporate the best available science.” The corresponding E.J. objective is “Conduct research to understand how PFAS contribute to the cumulative burden of pollution in communities with environmental justice concerns.”

The “Restrict” goal is, “Pursue a comprehensive approach to proactively prevent PFAS from entering air, land, and water at levels that can adversely impact human health and the environment.”  The E.J. objectives for this goal include, “Prevent or minimize PFAS discharges and emissions in all communities, regardless of income, race, or language barriers.”

The “Remediate” goal is to “Broaden and accelerate the cleanup of PFAS contamination to protect human health and ecological systems.” Two objectives highlighting E.J. concerns are: 1) “Help ensure that communities impacted by PFAS receive resources and assistance to address contamination, regardless of income, race, or language barriers”; and 2) “Accelerate the deployment of treatment, remediation, destruction, disposal, and mitigation technologies for PFAS, and ensure that disposal and destruction activities do not create new pollution problems in communities with environmental justice concerns.”

To further these E.J. objectives, the Roadmap calls for a cross-program effort to engage with affected communities.  “EPA will meet with affected communities in each EPA Region to hear how PFAS contamination impacts their lives and livelihoods.” Knowledge gained from these community engagements will inform EPA’s implementation of all the other actions called for in the Roadmap.

In addition to the cross-program effort, the actions by the media-specific offices to implement the Roadmap will likewise include E.J.-focused efforts. The Office of Water anticipates addressing E.J. matters in implementing the proposed Fifth Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Rule (UCMR 5) under the SDWA, gathering data on 29 PFAS from a significantly expanded number of drinking water systems to improve EPA’s ability to conduct contamination assessments, “including analyses of potential E.J. impacts.” Similarly, the air program would use tools such as EJSCREEN to determine whether PFAS air pollution disproportionately affects E.J. communities. Likewise, the Office of Research and Development will focus on characterizing cumulative exposures to assess impacts on environmental justice communities.

In preparing the PFAS Roadmap, EPA has made a conscious effort to ensure that E.J. considerations are woven directly into the plan’s DNA, and should be expected at each stage of implementation.

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About the Author

Kevin Desharnais, an environmental litigator and counselor with over two decades of experience, practices out of the firm’s Chicago office. He can be reached at or 312-782-6660, and his biography can be accessed here.

IRS Independent Office of Appeals

When dealing with the Internal Revenue Service during the initial stages of a tax case, whether it involves an audit, collection issue, request for penalty relief, or a proposed plan of resolution such as an Offer In Compromise, taxpayers as well as tax professionals often overlook the right to resolution through the use of the IRS Independent Office of Appeals.  The Office of Appeals is available in most cases to resolve disputes, without litigation, in a way that is fair and impartial to the taxpayer.  The origin of cases reviewed by the Office of Appeals include:

  • Examination Appeals, which involve the review and resolution of general docketed and non-docketed audit cases generated from the IRS audit deficiency determinations.
  • Collection Appeals, which involve the review and resolution of cases involving Collection Due Process, Offers in Compromise, Trust Fund Recovery Penalties, Jeopardy Levies, Collection Appeals Program (CAP), and other such cases in which a taxpayer has been assessed a liability in which they are attempting to amicably resolve.
  • Claim for Refund or Request for Abatement of Penalty Appeals, which involve the review and resolution of cases involving a taxpayer’s claim for a refund of an overpayment of tax or request for an abatement of certain taxes, interest, penalties, fees, or additions to tax.
  • Specialized Examination Programs & Referrals, which involve the review and resolution of a variety of specialized programs such as international issues, estate and gift issues, tax-exempt and governmental entity issues, tax computations, innocent spouse, TEFRA, art appraisal services and penalty appeals.

The Office of Appeals has the independent authority and jurisdiction over most cases it reviews, with the ability to compromise or concede issues that the IRS has previously decided against a taxpayer.  The Office of Appeals ultimately settles, to the satisfaction of the taxpayer, approximately 80% or more of the cases it reviews.  Being aware of the process and procedure involved in this resolution tool, including how to stage a case for the potential for such an appeal while it is under audit or in its initial investigation stage and how to present a case to the Office of Appeals once an appeal is elected, is key to a favorably and cost saving resolution in most cases.

Prior to joining Dickinson Wright, James Mauro served as legal counsel for the IRS, as a Senior Tax Attorney with the Office of Chief Counsel, and as a Special Assistant United States Attorney with the Department of Justice, where he developed an expertise in tax appeals, audits, collections, and litigation.  Since moving into the private sector and practicing law at Dickinson Wright, his unique expertise and extensive experience has proved to be invaluable in assisting individuals, small businesses, and major corporations in such cases.  You may contact him at 517-487-4701 or for more information or assistance regarding tax cases that involve the IRS.

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About the Author:

James Mauro is a Member with Dickinson Wright’s Tax Group. He can be reached at 517-487-4701 or, and his biography can be accessed here.