(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s largest business group says Gov. Tony Evers’ planned PFAS chemical lawsuit is nothing more than a political stunt.
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce said the governor is way off base in announcing he will sue to punish companies for years of what he called PFAS pollution.
“They want to sue businesses for the past use of compounds for which no standards have been set under either state or federal law,” WMC’s Kurt Bauer said.
PFAS chemicals, or forever chemicals as they are also known, are in everything from Teflon, to waxes and paints, to food packaging materials. PFAS chemicals are also used in firefighting foam. That is where they are most common, and where Gov. Evers has focused his pursuit.
Bauer said the governor is trying to make a political point, while ignoring the reality of how businesses have been trying to work with environmentalists across Wisconsin.
“The business community has worked cooperatively with policymakers and regulators to address concerns stemming from the use and testing of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals.” Bauer added. “[This] action doesn’t recognize the sincere attempts by businesses to collaborate with governmental entities on the complexity of PFAS-related issues.”
Environmental groups, on the other hand, are thrilled with the governor's decision.
The group Clean Wisconsin says Gov. Evers needs to sue, blaming state lawmakers for not going along with the governor’s earlier requests to implement new PFAS standards into state law.
“Against legislative inaction and limiting any PFAS protections at the behest of industry and PFAS-users, this action finally provides accountability and prioritizes public health,” Clean Wisconsin director of government relations Carly Michiels said. “Industry and heavy PFAS-users cannot continue to drive the narrative to protect their own pocketbooks, forgetting those most harmed by their actions.”
Gov. Evers’ office says the state is monitoring 50 sites for PFAS contamination or pollution across the state.
There is no federally mandated PFAS threshold, meaning there is no EPA required level for what constitutes pollution or contamination. The EPA does recommend that PFAS levels be under 70 ppt (parts per trillion) in water samples.
Gov. Evers is recommending 20 ppt, or almost four times lower than what the federal government recommends.
Bauer and the WMC said on Friday tht “the Evers Administration seems dead set on disparaging Wisconsin employers regardless of whether there is an actual health risk associated with certain PFAS compounds.”