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Several members of County Board respond to Feehan criticism

From the COLLECTION: Columns, letters from weekend Opinion pages series
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Bill Feehan, the chair of the La Crosse Republican Party, recently accused the La Crosse County Board of hypocrisy for approving a Clean Water referendum.

His letter cries out for a rebuttal since it is filled with inaccuracies and hypocrisy. Feehan suggests the county is not doing enough to mitigate the PFAS crisis in the town of Campbell, and begins with a factual error, stating the county appropriated $10,000 to study the problem.

The County Board did, in fact, approve $25,000 toward a feasibility study, and set aside an additional $100,000 towards additional PFAS mitigation expenditures.

The PFAS situation is multi-faceted, extremely challenging and does not lend itself to easy answers. A Government Partners Group, including County Board Chair Kruse, other County Board supervisors, Mayor Mitch Reynolds, town of Campbell officials, the DNR, the DHS and the USGS have been meeting monthly since last March to try to find long-term solutions to the problem. This group has yet to determine a viable path going forward.

Feehan suggests the county spend some of its "windfall" $22.89 million ARPA money to expand La Crosse sewer lines into the town of Campbell.

The cost of such a project would be considerably more than the county’s allocation and would likely exceed even the $45 million received by the county and city combined. That would leave nothing for the proposed child care, renewable energy and stormwater infrastructure projects we are currently planning.

Republican leaders in the state Legislature have consistently refused funding that would help alleviate water quality issues across the state, including PFAS. The U.S.  Senate recently passed an infrastructure bill that will send $142 million to Wisconsin, including funding to help with PFAS pollution. U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., voted “no” on this bill.

Feehan mocks the proposal establishing the right to clean water passed overwhelmingly by the County Board. He clearly does not understand that clean water is primarily the responsibility of state and federal authorities.

The irony is that this referendum is needed precisely because the Republican Party and its corporate allies continue to block common sense regulations that protect our water.

Using the PFAS problem as a political cudgel is shameful, because the issue is causing genuine suffering and French Island residents deserve better than ill-informed partisanship. Let’s work together to find a solution!

Monica Kruse, Kim Cable, Andrea Richmond (CB leadership team), Peg Isola, Tina Tryggestad, Randy Erickson, Margaret Larson (Executive Committee members), Karen Keil (CB supervisor

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