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Republican budgeteers push Evers to sign PFAS cleanup

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(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s Republican budget architects are pushing Gov. Tony Evers to sign their PFAS cleanup plan.

Joint Finance Committee chairs Rep. Mark Born, R=Beaver Dam, and Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said the governor shouldn’t be “the obstacle” in the way of a $125 million PFAS grant program.

“Please do not veto this bill. The JFC will not change the legislative intent for these funds,” Born and Marklein wrote in an open letter to the governor. “Through the legislative process, public hearings, and extensive revisions and compromise, the PFAS relief bill passed by the Legislature has earned the support of affected communities, including all three statewide associations representing all levels of local government.”

Republicans want to spend the $125 million to help local communities clean the so-called forever chemicals out of their weather supplies.

But Evers has threatened to veto the plan because it doesn’t allow the state to sue landowners who find PFAS contamination on their land or in their water.

“We are ready to take action on PFAS through Senate Bill 312. Do not veto this bill and be the obstacle to move this critical relief forward. If you are serious about addressing PFAS, sign the bill,” Born and Marklien added. “Vetoing the critical protections and programs supported by victims and affected communities will turn funds the legislature intended to help victims into an unaccountable slush fund that your administration has said it would use to bring enforcement action against farmers and other innocent landowners who didn’t cause the pollution in the first place.”

Evers has said that cleaning Wisconsin’s local water supplies is one of his top priorities, but he has refused to move on this or other PFAS clean-up initiatives.

PFAS, the acronym for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, are widely used, long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. They are used in everything from Teflon coating to firefighting foam. Studies vary on their harmful effects; more is known about their impact on animals than on humans.

The chemicals have been found across the state of Wisconsin, but only certain communities have issues with the levels of PFAS found in their water.

Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol proposed their own PFAS plan at the beginning of March. But that legislation failed to get any traction at the statehouse. Evers has not said when he will act on the PFAS legislation, or just what he intends to do when he does act.

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