Like many of our friends and neighbors, my family lives within the PFAS contamination area. It brings a level of uneasiness and uncertainty to all of us. We didn’t create this problem, but we can work together to respond to it.

I’ve met with many neighbors on this issue, talked with experts in the field, and authored pieces of legislation, several of which are now law. I’m proud to report we are making meaningful progress. While some legislators would rather focus on politics and press conferences, I’m focused on getting things done.

It is important to be for something, not just oppose legislation. To date, Rep. Mursau and I are the only legislators from our area to vote for and pass legislation dealing with PFAS contamination. Shortly after the contamination was reported, I pushed for PFAS standards. This action prompted the previous administration to complete groundwater standard recommendations for PFOA and PFOS.

When the 2019-2020 legislative session began, I strengthened my resolve to do more. We passed a bill that restricts the use of firefighting foams containing PFAS. Had this bill been law 40 years ago, we likely would not be dealing with this PFAS contamination today. Unfortunately, Sen. Dave Hansen was one of two legislators who voted against this bill and even called for it to be vetoed.

My colleagues and I worked together to create a clean water fund, require timely public notification when groundwater is contaminated, and expand eligibility and funding to repair and remediate private wells. While some bills are still being deliberated, I’m proud that we have laid a foundation for future efforts.

With the DNR, I worked on bipartisan legislation to regulate PFOA and PFOS. These PFAS chemicals are the source of contamination in our community and have the most science to base standards on. At my urging, Sen. Hansen worked with me on this science-based legislation.

From the start, industry, municipal water groups, and local government strongly opposed our bills. Making the challenge tougher, Sen. Hansen did little to help pass the bills in the Senate. This makes his criticisms of the bills not passing surprising.

Despite these odds, I was able to gain the support of the municipal water groups and local government. And I was able to move the bills through both Senate and Assembly Committees with only two no votes. And that’s when the opposition resorted to fear-mongering to kill the bills.

While we can and should do more in the future, we have made a positive step forward. We are providing funding for clean water for those impacted by PFAS contamination, water tests and investigations of PFAS contamination. Some of what passed comes directly from the bills Sen. Hansen and I worked on.

Wisconsin’s motto is “Forward” and my goal as your representative is to live up to that motto. This legislation meets that goal. Political attacks won’t help solve this problem. Working together will, and that is what I am committed to doing.

The EagleHerald has invited elected officials serving our area, as well as key city and county officials, to write occasional columns for our Opinion page, which allows them to share their views on certain issues. This column was written by State Rep. John Nygren, a Republican from Marinette, who represents the 89th District in the Wisconsin Assembly which includes Marinette, Peshtigo, Oconto and Howard-Suamico.