Evers takes on the Tories


Democratic Gov. Tony Evers lambasted conservative members of the Department of Natural Resources’ board on Thursday for refusing to set limits on a group of chemicals known as PFAS in Wisconsin groundwater.

In February, the council passed limits for drinking water and surface water, but rejected DNR recommendations to impose a 20 parts per trillion limit for groundwater after conservative council members expressed their concerns about the cost of replacing or restoring wells that are contaminated above this benchmark.

Evers told the audience at a Wispolitics.com luncheon in Madison that the “wrong people” were on the board and the panel should have been able to pass the groundwater limits more quickly and transparently. . Under Wisconsin regulatory laws, it could be another three years before the DNR imposes groundwater restrictions on the council again.

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“The longer we wait to set standards, the more it will cost and the more people will be harmed health-wise,” the governor said. “That’s not anti-business advice. It’s just the truth…it could take another three years, minimum, to create standards for PFAS while French Island sits there saying, ‘How many time should I drink Culligan’s water?’ It’s just not right.”

PFAS, an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, were developed as coatings to protect consumer goods from stains, water and corrosion. They are found in a variety of products ranging from cookware to fire fighting foam. Chemicals do not break down in nature; research suggests they can cause liver problems, lower birth weight, and an increased risk of high blood pressure and cancer.

A number of Wisconsin municipalities have struggled with PFAS in their drinking water, including Madison, Marinette, the town of Campbell on the French Island just outside of La Crosse, Peshtigo, and Wausau.

DNR board chairman Greg Kazmierski said the department’s recommendation for groundwater limits included a host of other compounds besides PFAS. He said this was an “overshoot” and that if the proposal had been limited to PFAS, the restrictions would have passed.

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