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policy & Advocacy

Closing a PFAS Reporting Loophole

Wisconsin transportation officials are proposing a controversial $1.1 billion dollar expansion of I-94 in Milwaukee. Midwest Environmental Advocates is advocating for a more just and sustainable alternative that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of people living adjacent to the corridor. 

ISSUE SUMMARY

MEA is pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with a proposal that would make it easier to understand how PFAS substances make their way into the environment and to identify those who are responsible. Under federal law, companies that discharge or dispose of toxic chemicals must report that information, which is then compiled in a public database called the Toxics Release Inventory. Currently, there is an exemption in the law that allows companies to avoid reporting when toxic chemicals are discharged in low concentrations. The problem with the exemption is that PFAS are highly toxic even at extremely low concentrations. n Wisconsin, there is evidence to suggest that industry is taking advantage of the exemption to avoid reporting on PFAS. Wisconsin is home to numerous industries known to use PFAS—including paper mills, chemical manufacturers, and textile plants—yet only one facility in the state has ever reported discharging or disposing of PFAS under the Toxics Release Inventory. Coupled with the fact that there are over a hundred known sites of PFAS contamination in the state, this suggests that current reporting requirements may not be sufficient. Closing the reporting loophole by updating the requirements will give state and local agencies the information they need to protect public health and the environment. 

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The “Fix at Six” Alternative

MEA and other members of the Coalition for More Responsible Transportation are advocating for a more just and sustainable alternative that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of people living adjacent to the corridor. 

Our “Fix at Six” alternative would:

  • repair and modernize the road, but keep the current six lanes
  • add additional bus rapid transit (BRT) access along the corridor
  • promote walking and biking infrastructure, particularly along the stadium freeway

Federal Civil Rights Investigation

In response to a complaint filed by MEA and other environmental advocacy groups, the Federal Highway Administration has launched a civil rights investigation into the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s plan to expand I-94 in Milwaukee.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin by entities such as WisDOT that receive federal funding. The law prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also actions that have a disparate impact.

Our coalition has demonstrated how the plan to expand I-94 would lead to racially discriminatory impacts—including increased carbon emissions, air pollution, water pollution and flooding—on the Black and Hispanic communities near the interstate. With the federal government now undertaking a civil rights investigation into this plan, proceeding with the expansion would be inconsistent with the state’s obligation to uphold fundamental civil rights protections.

Rev. Joseph Jackson

Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope

Learn more about our Climate & Energy Work

LEGAL ACTION

Standing Up for Energy Equity and Affordable Solar Power

When two of Wisconsin’s biggest utility companies announced plans to increase energy rates and unfairly reduce compensation for rooftop solar owners, MEA took action to ensure the economic viability of rooftop solar in Wisconsin. 

LEARN MORE

LEGAL ACTION

Intervening in Line 5 Public Interest Determination

In May 2020, MEA filed a request to intervene in a case involving Enbridge Energy’s application to condemn private property rights in order to construct a new segment of its Line 5 oil pipeline.

LEARN MORE

LEGAL ACTION

Holding Enbridge Accountable to our Environmental Laws

MEA is leading efforts to ensure that state and federal regulators subject Enbridge Energy’s proposed reroute of its Line 5 oil pipeline to the highest possible legal and environmental scrutiny.

POLICY & ADVOCACY

Advocating for Sustainable Alternatives to the Expansion Of I-94

Wisconsin transportation officials are proposing a controversial $1.1 billion dollar expansion of I-94 in Milwaukee. MEA is advocating for a more just and sustainable alternative that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of people living adjacent to the corridor. 

LEARN MORE

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policy & advocacy

Closing a PFAS Reporting Loophole

MEA is pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with a proposal that would make it easer to understand how PFAS substances make their way into the environment and to identify those who are responsible.

ISSUE SUMMARY

MEA is pressing the Environmental Protection Agency to move forward with a proposal that would make it easier to understand how PFAS substances make their way into the environment and to identify those who are responsible. Under federal law, companies that discharge or dispose of toxic chemicals must report that information, which is then compiled in a public database called the Toxics Release Inventory. Currently, there is an exemption in the law that allows companies to avoid reporting when toxic chemicals are discharged in low concentrations. The problem with the exemption is that PFAS are highly toxic even at extremely low concentrations. n Wisconsin, there is evidence to suggest that industry is taking advantage of the exemption to avoid reporting on PFAS. Wisconsin is home to numerous industries known to use PFAS—including paper mills, chemical manufacturers, and textile plants—yet only one facility in the state has ever reported discharging or disposing of PFAS under the Toxics Release Inventory. Coupled with the fact that there are over a hundred known sites of PFAS contamination in the state, this suggests that current reporting requirements may not be sufficient. Closing the reporting loophole by updating the requirements will give state and local agencies the information they need to protect public health and the environment. 

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RESOURCES RELATED TO THIS ISSUE

MEA REPORT
Fix at Six: A Sustainable Alternative to Expanding I-94 in Milwaukee
LEGAL RESOURCE
Federal Civil Rights Complaint (May 2023)
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Description

A Federal Civil Rights Investigation

In response to a 2023 complaint filed by MEA and other environmental advocacy groups, the Federal Highway Administration is launching a civil rights investigation into the expansion plan.
 
While the investigation is ongoing, MEA and our coalition partners are calling on Governor Evers to halt the project, and we’re urging the Federal Highway Administration to refrain from issuing a Final EIS or a Record of Decision.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color or national origin by entities such as WisDOT that receive federal funding. The law prohibits not only intentional discrimination, but also actions that have a disparate impact.
 
Our coalition has demonstrated how the plan to expand I-94 would lead to racially discriminatory impacts—including increased carbon emissions, air pollution, water pollution and flooding—on the Black and Hispanic communities near the interstate.
 
With the federal government now undertaking a civil rights investigation into this plan, proceeding with the expansion would be inconsistent with the state’s obligation to uphold fundamental civil rights protections.

Rev. Joseph Jackson
Milwaukee Inner-city Congregations Allied for Hope

 

learn more about our Climate & Energy work

LEGAL ACTION

Standing Up for Energy Equity and Affordable Solar Power

When two of Wisconsin’s biggest utility companies announced plans to increase energy rates and unfairly reduce compensation for rooftop solar owners, MEA took action to ensure the economic viability of rooftop solar in Wisconsin. 

LEARN MORE

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