MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers announced on late Friday afternoon that he was directing the state’s Departments of Justice and Administration to hire lawyers to pursue taxpayer-funded lawsuits against employers who process or use per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances – better known as PFAS – in their production.
These synthetic compounds have been used in industry and consumer products around the world for decades. The most well-known PFAS compounds – PFOA and PFOS – are no longer manufactured in the United States.
“Today’s announcement is an unfortunate political stunt,” said WMC President & CEO Kurt Bauer. “They want to sue businesses for the past use of compounds for which no standards have been set under either state or federal law.”
There are currently thousands of different PFAS substances in existence – many of which have been approved by the FDA for use in food packaging – yet the Evers Administration seems dead set on disparaging Wisconsin employers regardless of whether there is an actual health risk associated with certain PFAS compounds.
“The business community has worked cooperatively with policymakers and regulators to address concerns stemming from the use and testing of firefighting foam containing PFAS chemicals.” added Bauer. “Today’s action doesn’t recognize the sincere attempts by businesses to collaborate with governmental entities on the complexity of PFAS-related issues.”
WMC has educated lawmakers, agency officials and others on the importance of letting the science drive PFAS regulations in recent years. These efforts led to bipartisan legislation being signed into law by Gov. Evers during the last legislative session.
“If the governor was truly looking to protect the environment, he would have continued to work closely with the business community on this topic,” Bauer concluded. “History has shown time and again that more lawsuits only add to the delay associated with environmental cleanups. Today’s announcement will actually slow progress toward addressing contaminated areas in our state.”