Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Attorney General demands federal action on PFAS; group calls state's proposed water chemical limits 'extremely restrictive'Submitted: 07/31/2019
Story By Ben Meyer

Attorney General demands federal action on PFAS; group calls state's proposed water chemical limits 'extremely restrictive'
WISCONSIN - On Tuesday, state Attorney General Josh Kaul signed a letter demanding federal action on perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of chemicals sometimes found in drinking water.

But also this month, a coalition of Wisconsin groups protested proposed state regulations which would highly restrict PFAS in groundwater.

Last Monday, the City of Rhinelander announced testing had found high levels of PFAS in a city well, causing it to shut down that well. That set off interest and concern over PFAS in the area. Excessive PFAS levels may be linked to health issues, like high cholesterol, low female fertility, and low infant birth weights.

The manmade group of chemicals are found in products like food wrappers, stain-resistant fabrics, and nail polish.


In Tuesday's letter, Kaul and 21 other state attorneys asked the U.S. Senate and House to support the addition of PFAS to a list of "hazardous substances."

"I intend to respond in ways that we can, and I think it's critical that our state, and our country as a whole, respond to make sure that we're protecting health," Kaul said in an interview on Wednesday. "I think it's critical that we respond in a way that both takes into account the science that's available but is also making sure that we're protective of human health."

The special PFAS designation would streamline the process of cleaning it from certain sites. The attorneys general also want the federal government to provide money to address PFAS in drinking water.

Meanwhile, a group calls new recommended state PFAS limits "extremely restrictive," warning that they could "devastate" Wisconsin's economy.

"Much of what's driving regulation now is fear, and it's fear that's not borne out of science," said Lane Ruhland, the Director of Environmental and Energy Policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC).

WMC is a member of the Water Quality Coalition, a group of organizations and trade associations.

In June, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) recommended an enforcement standard of 20 parts per trillion (ppt) of PFAS in groundwater and a preventive action limit of two ppt.

WMC said the preventive action limit, the level which may trigger action from the government to ensure levels don't reach the enforcement standard, would be the most restrictive on earth.

"This is an incredibly restrictive limit, and we're very concerned about the potential cost implications of adopting the most restrictive standard in the world in Wisconsin," Ruhland said.

The proposed enforcement standard and preventive action limit now go to the state DNR, which will develop regulations with the force of law.

Ruhland said the DNR doesn't have the ability to alter the numeric recommendations suggested by DHS. At the time of this writing, DNR representatives didn't respond to an emailed question on whether they have flexibility to change the numbers before they become official regulations.

The Water Quality Coalition is also frustrated by what it sees as a lack of openness and transparency as DHS developed the PFAS recommendations.

"It's a black box," Ruhland said.

In a letter to DHS Sec.-designee Andrea Palm, Water Quality Coalition members wrote, "The entire process was completed behind closed government doors, and with no input outside of the state agencies. Stakeholders and citizens were not allowed an opportunity to highlight scientific studies and information, nor to provide direct information to the agencies."

The DNR process to develop official regulations will likely take years.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Northwoods is no stranger to heavy snow storms, but imagine having your driveways and sidewalks cleared - without ever having to touch a shovel.

+ Read More

Play Video

ANTIGO - What starts with a tumble, ends in neatly packed, ready-to-ship bundles in the Kretz Lumber warehouse. Twenty percent of it will go across the ocean to China, with tariffs tearing into the profit.

"Twenty-five percent of our sales to China was reduced and we still have the same amount of overhead that you have to cover no matter what the price is," said Troy Brown, President of Kretz Lumber.

Though China's tariffs will be gone Friday, Brown says the foreign timber market is much different now from a year and a half ago.

"When their sheds are full of lumber from other countries it takes a while to empty those sheds out and start filling them with U.S. hardwoods," said Brown.

So even without tariffs, Brown wants some relief funds.

In a recent Farm Relief Package through the United States Department of Agriculture, dairy, soybean and other farmers received federal aid. But hardwood tree farmers got nothing.

"We support the Trump administration in the trade war 100 percent," said Brown. "But if the government is offering relief, you want to raise your hand as an industry and for your partners in the industry to say 'hey, what about us.'"

Brown also said he can't rely on the Chinese market right now.

"Everything we've been hearing is China has its problems," said Brown. "It's got coronavirus that everybody hears about. It's got an economy that hit a bubble and somewhat burst."

Brown hopes the Trump administration will include hardwood in the farm aid package, but isn't holding his breath.

"I am not expecting anything to come of this," said Brown. "I'd be highly surprised."

So Brown and others at Kretz Lumber will keep turning timber to lumber; hoping for a pleasant, unexpected surprise.

+ Read More

Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - The Subaru Winter Experience started three years ago in Eagle River.

It has everything a thrill seeker could hope for: fast cars, harsh weather, and beautiful scenery. 

That's why hundreds from all over the world make their way up to Dollar Lake in February.

Jake Alward -- owner of Chanticleer Inn -- has seen visitors from Texas, Flordia, Virginia, California, New York, Washington, Wisconsin, and Illinois.

Swedish organizers Patrik and Lienna Sandell originally started the ice-driving classes in Sweden and later brought the concept to America.

Patrik has spent most of his life racing on ice.

"This is how I grew up, driving cars on a frozen lake up there, and that then turned into a professional career, so I've been driving professionally since 2006," he said.

+ Read More

ADAMS CO., IL - A school bus slid on snow and off the road then flipped onto its side in Adams county,  Illinois Tuesday morning.

Three students were on board. Two of them were taken to a hospital for an evaluation, but no serious injuries were reported.

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - Twenty-four people associated with a violent drug trafficking gang operating in a northeast Milwaukee neighborhood face federal charges, authorities said Wednesday.

Hundreds of federal, state and local officers executed search warrants Tuesday and rounded up 17 of the defendants. The rest remained at large Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Matthew Krueger said.

+ Read More

MADISON - Republican legislators and their fundraising committees finished 2019 with four times as much money in their campaign accounts as their Democratic rivals, according to a review government watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign released Wednesday.

The review found that GOP lawmakers and their two legislative campaign fundraising committees - one for the Senate and one for the Assembly - ended the year with more than $6.3 million combined in the bank. Democratic legislators and their two committees finished with $1.6 million on hand.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - One former Northwoods resident made his way to New Orleans, in his customized crown and cape, to begin his royal duties in one of the city's famous Mardi Gras parades.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: