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Republicans block tougher enforcement of PFAS chemicals

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican lawmakers on Friday blocked the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources from enforcing some new regulations designed to keep some PFAS chemicals out of the environment.

The Legislature’s GOP-controlled rules committee voted 6-4 along party lines to strip key language from a newly-adopted rule limiting the use of firefighting foam containing the “forever chemicals” known as PFAS, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Democrats accused the committee of “neutering” the state’s first law aimed at curbing PFAS contamination. But the committee’s Republican leaders agreed with industry groups who argued the DNR overstepped its authority.

The temporary rule, which took effect Dec. 4, outlined steps that testing facilities must take to contain and treat fluorinated foam and effectively prohibits them from discharging water with detectable amounts of PFAS.

Industry groups opposed the rule, which was drafted to comply with a GOP-sponsored law passed last year that restricts the use of PFAS foams to emergency situations and testing facilities with “appropriate containment, treatment, and disposal measures.”

The law left it to the DNR to define those treatment and disposal measures.

Darsi Foss, administrator of the DNR’s environmental management division, said the amended rule creates a loophole that allows someone to sop up PFAS-laden foam and throw it into any landfill, where PFAS could leak back into the environment.

The vote came after a hearing where the only invited speakers were representatives from Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business lobby, the American Chemistry Council, Midwest Food Products Association and the DNR.

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