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Evers disappointed by lack of movement on PFAS lawsuit and GOP-controlled DNR board

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FILE - Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks about PFAS on French Island, July 20th, 2022.

The state of Wisconsin may have decided to sue companies that make PFAS chemicals but court cases can move slowly.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced the lawsuit two weeks ago during a visit to French Island, where hundreds of families have wells tainted by PFAS. Evers says a judge still has to be assigned to the case, and he’s frustrated by the wait.

“We’ve known for a long time that PFAS are a significant issue, people get sick because of PFAS in the water,” Evers said during a stop in La Crosse this week. “People on French Island, essentially, count on Culligan to deliver their water,” referring to those families that have been forced to use bottled water for over a year and a half.

The governor added that the state Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources policy board should be setting standards for the chemicals. Evers, however, pointed out that the board’s majority was not appointed by him.

“We have a DNR board that’s somewhat — not really the DNR board that I appointed, and therefore they refuse to take a stand on the setting of standards,” Evers said.

It’s a contentious issue, as Republicans who control the state Senate have refused to confirm Evers’ nominee, allowing the GOP member to remain indefinitely, thanks to a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling.

The GOP-controlled state Legislature, which is a full-time body, would also have to call a confirmation hearing, but they have been out of session since March and aren’t scheduled back until January of 2023 — a 10-month hiatus.

The PFAS lawsuit is aimed at 18 companies, including 3M and Du Pont.

Evers says the suit against almost 20 chemical companies has not been assigned to a judge yet.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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