PFAS News from Gov. Evers and the EPA

WI Green Fire, April 10, 2024

This week brings two big updates for PFAS in Wisconsin.

Representatives from environmental organizations and Gov. Evers at veto ceremony of SB 312

Gov. Evers and representatives from environmental organizations (Paul Heinen, WGF Policy Director at center of back row) at veto ceremony of SB 312, April 9th, 2024

1) Veto of SB 312 – the PFAS bill with a “poison pill”

On April 9, 2024, Governor Tony Evers vetoed Senate Bill 312, the PFAS bill that ultimately failed to provide funding for communities affected by PFAS contamination. The bill also included provisions that would have limited the Department of Natural Resources’ ability to hold responsible parties accountable for hazardous spills and contamination.

Importantly, the work on PFAS doesn’t end with this veto. Rather, Gov. Evers describes continuing efforts toward “workable, meaningful, and bipartisan solutions to remediate PFAS contamination across Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s Green Fire joined a dozen other environmental groups in a letter from April 4th urging Gov. Evers to veto the bill. Our co-signers included Midwest Environmental Advocates, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, River Alliance of Wisconsin, Save our Water, Clean Water Action Council of NE Wisconsin, Wisconsin Environmental Health Network, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Citizens for Safe Water Around Badger, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Sierra Club Wisconsin, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, and the Citizens for a Clean Wausau.

This action built on our February 26th letter with the same veto recommendation. Although we had worked over the months in 2023 with authors of the bill to make it beneficial to Wisconsinites, those efforts were unsuccessful. Vetoing this bill and continuing to insist that the Joint Committee on Finance release the $125M funding for communities from the PFAS Trust Fund will help Wisconsin move forward in dealing with PFAS contamination.

2) New drinking water standards from the EPA

On April 10, 2024, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced new federal drinking water standards for the “forever chemicals” called PFAS.  These regulations include six of the most significant types of PFAS in Wisconsin’s drinking water–PFOA, PFOS, and four other PFAS chemicals. The standard for these PFAS will be four parts per trillion (4 ppt). This new federal standard is considerably lower than the 70 ppt in Wisconsin’s current state standards. The 70 ppt standard will remain in effect until the new federal standards become law, likely at least a few years from now.

In Wisconsin, over 90 municipalities, schools, day care centers, mobile home parks, subdivisions, businesses, and industries currently exceed these now final federal drinking water standards. These findings are consistent with information reported by Wisconsin’s Green Fire (WGF) in 2023. See our Opportunities Now: PFAS in Wisconsin Drinking Water report and our webinar on PFAS.

These federal enforcement standards will become effective in Wisconsin in about three years, and then Wisconsin’s water supply systems have five years to comply with them.  Federal officials also announced that $9 billion will be made available nationwide as the third year of a five-year PFAS cleanup plan.

“These new standards have been long awaited here in Wisconsin, and this is a big step forward in a long process to protect clean drinking water in Wisconsin,” stated WGF’s Executive Director Meleesa Johnson.”

WGF is continuing to work on PFAS as a strategic priority led by our Contaminants of Emerging Concern Work Group.

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