Read the full article by Danielle Kaeding (Wisconsin Public Radio)

“Environmental groups argue a permanent rule that would enforce a law banning the use of PFAS firefighting foam is just a watered down version of an emergency rule weakened by Republican lawmakers last year.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources held a public hearing Thursday on its proposed permanent rule that would outline appropriate testing, treatment, storage, containment and disposal of PFAS foam under Act 101. The law bans the use of PFAS foam except in emergencies and limited circumstances.  

PFAS, or perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are a class of thousands of so-called ‘forever chemicals’ that are found in firefighting foam and everyday products. They’ve been linked to increased risk of kidney and testicular cancers, thyroid disease and fertility issues. The chemicals are also tied to reduced response to vaccines and don’t break down easily in the environment.

In December, the Legislature’s Republican-controlled joint rules committee voted 6 to 4 along party lines to suspend parts of the DNR’s emergency rule. The agency’s proposed permanent regulations would reflect those changes, which includes the elimination of any indicator levels for PFAS. The levels would’ve been used to guide treatment of foam contaminated water before it’s discharged to sewers or waterways.

‘This turned an already modest effort by the Legislature to protect residents from PFAS pollution into a bare minimum action,’ said Erik Kanter, government relations director for Clean Wisconsin.

Lawmakers also removed a definition of treatment that would require the complete destruction or removal of the chemicals, and they exempted the regulations from applying to foam-contaminated materials like booms that may soak up PFAS.

‘This rule for PFAS containing firefighting foam is the very least we could be doing right now,’ said Peter Burress, government affairs manager for Wisconsin Conservation Voters. ‘Wisconsinites are demanding that our decision-makers take PFAS seriously, but the Wisconsin Legislature continues to undermine progress.'”…