MARINETTE — The Marinette County Development Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to forward a resolution without a recommendation to the full county board that supports action requiring the Department of Natural Resources to establish and enforce various standards for per- and polyfluroalkyl substances (PFAS).

The resolution was passed unanimously, 7-0, after it was amended by a 4-3 vote to withdraw Senate Bill 302 (also referred to the Clear Water Act) and replace it with the word “action” due to complaints from one supervisor that approving it the way it was would be a partisan action because the authors of the Senate bill and a companion measure in the Assembly were Democrats and authors of two other bills related to PFAS were Republicans.

Supervisor Robert Holley, a member of the committee and county board vice chairperson, said he could not back the resolution because he believes that would mean he is supporting partisan legislation.

“I understand what the people are saying (that the passing of the legislation is needed),” he said. “But I cannot support this legislation because I believe it is partisan.

“The county board should not be supporting bills, it should be supporting concepts. The concept of clean water is great.” said Holley, who reported he has read that the DNR is already doing what the resolution calls for it to do and that he has been told by some area legislators that there’s almost 4,000 different contaminants involved. “So if we’re going to support a resolution, I cannot support it when it says Senate Bill 302.”

Supervisor Thomas Mandli whose district includes parts of the Towns of Peshtigo, said he “would love to have seen this bill as bipartisan, but that passage of it is very crucial to Marinette County and the people involved.

“I’m thinking that at this time if we did support the bill now, that it could be amended down the road again to change it to anything that is bipartisan,” he said. “But it goes beyond just the writing of the bill, we’ve got to get it through two houses in Madison.

“We need something happening. We just can’t keep sitting around waiting for the people in Madison to do something. We need to step up and tell them we want something now whether it’s considered partisan or not. We need it now and we need to have this push done.”

He said the crowd of people that jammed the meeting room at the courthouse on Tuesday sent  a message to the committee.

“A bill has to be for the state, it can’t just be for Marinette County,” Mandli said. “There’s issues in Madison, there’s two wells that are shut down in Rhinelander because of PFAS. Yes there’s lot of sources, we believe it’s the tip of the iceberg. The longer we wait the more we poison our children, grandchildren and future generations.

“So I’m 100 percent behind this, We need to pass it on and we need to put pressure on Madison.”

Supervisor Clancy Whiting said if the committee didn’t forward the resolution to the full county board it would be making it a partisan issue.

“I say we move it on the the county board (which meets next Tuesday),” he said. “I’m not going to tell the 30 members how to vote.”

Supervisor Bonnie Popp said the DNR was going to hold public hearing on SB302 Nov. 12 in Eau Claire, Green Bay and Madison.

“By allowing the DNR to go through this process, it allows the public input,” she said. “I’m afraid it could be locked and changed without your input.”

Popp made the motion to remove “SB302” from the resolution and replace it with the word “action”,

“I would support that action because it is requiring action, it’s not supporting a specific bill again,” Holley said. 

“I would say again that we need to put pressure on the parties involved in this,” Mandli said. “The Democrats did not come up with this on their own. They came to the people here and answered what they felt we needed.

“It’s the people here who wrote this. I think we need to support our local constituents by supporting this bill because they are actually the ones behind it.”

The members of the public who addressed the committee included Andi Rich of the City of Marinette and Cindy Boyle, who resides in the Town of Peshtigo with her husband Chuck, the two also own property in the City of Marinette.

“I would like to encourage everybody on this committee to please agree to move forward this resolution on the Clear Water Act.,” said Boyle, who is a member of CAC (Citizens Advisory Committee for the Town of Peshtigo). “We really need that Clear Water Act in order to provide some framework for dealing with the PFAS contamination issue around the state and specifically in our county and area.”

Rich said, “This has nothing to do with partisan politics. This is the community begging for help.”

“We have gone to endless meetings trying to figure out what needs to happen so the remediation can begin,” she said. “We know this is a contaminated area, but we are at a standstill. We keep asking the DNR what to do next, how do we keep this going forward? Right now we don’t have any enforcement limits. This resolution means that we are encouraging the people that represent us to get together and find an agreeable resolution. Enforceable limits have nothing to do with partisan politics.”