Last week, legislators on both sides of the aisle circulated differing proposals to address PFAS in Wisconsin. PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) are manufactured chemicals that are found in many everyday products, including nonstick pans, cleaning products, paints, and firefighting foam. Competing studies debate whether or not PFAS have negative health effects, and, if they do, at what level they are harmful.
In coordination with Gov. Tony Evers, Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona), Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay), Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Rep. Stausch Gruszynski (D-Green Bay), and Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) are circulating LRB 2297. The bill would require DNR to establish and enforce PFAS standards by rule for drinking water, groundwater, surface water, air, solid waste, beds of navigable waters, and soil and sediment if DNR deems it harmful to human health or the environment. The bill also provides that DNR may require entities possessing PFAS to provide proof of financial responsibility for remediation of potential discharge. Additionally, the bill requires any facility under investigation by DNR to provide DNR with access to information related to transportation of hazardous waste to any other site. The bill provides 7.5 positions at DNR and 2 positions at DHS, plus $150,000 for identifying and prioritizing PFAS sources, $50,000 for a study on use of firefighting foam containing PFAS, $87,000 for testing landfills and leachate, and $120,000 for investigation of PFAS sources and providing drinking water.
On the Republican side, Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) and Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) circulated LRB 3306. This bill would prohibit the use of firefighting foams that contain intentionally added PFAS in training, unless the testing facility has appropriate containment and treatment measures (as determined by DNR rule). Nygren and Cowles have also previously introduced SB 109/AB 85, which requires the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to establish state health-based groundwater quality standards for two types of PFAS: PFOA and PFOS. DHS would have to establish the new standards within 90 days of the enactment of the bill. Note that DHS is already working on PFOA and PFOS groundwater recommendations and has indicated they will release them to DNR sometime this summer.
This week, the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee also approved some measures to address PFAS in the DNR budget.
For more information on PFAS regulation in Wisconsin and at the federal level, visit /pfas/.