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As I See It

PFAS rules no good without enforcement



It is a word we had never heard before, and suddenly we seem to hear it more and more. That word is PFAS, an acronym for polyfluoroalkyl substances. They are chemicals, referred to as “forever chemicals”  that have been in use since the 1940s but now are showing up in our lakes, rivers and people’s well water. Dozens of homes near the La Crosse airport on French Island have found their wells contaminated with PFAS and are now being provided bottled water by the city. But that doesn’t deal with the problem. Most of the PFAS present in our area are being traced to chemicals contained in firefighting foam used in training at the airport. These chemicals threaten to make people sick with things like liver damage, thyroid disease and cancer. The Wisconsin Legislature last year banned the use of such firefighting foam. The DNR is in charge of ensuring the PFAS don’t end up in our groundwater. But now the Legislature argues the DNR overstepped its bounds and has essentially blocked the rule for the rest of this legislative session. That makes no sense. Why pass a rule that won’t be enforced? This contamination is a big problem, and getting bigger. Governor Evers is proposing spending millions to fight it. Cities like La Crosse are filing lawsuits against the manufacturers of this foam. We’re spending money to provide bottled water to those with contaminated wells. If we care about poison in people’s water, then this rule needs to be enforced. If we don’t, then the law should be repealed.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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