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Series of bills weaken protection of natural resources PDF Print E-mail

Letter to the Editor:

The balance in Wisconsin is shifting to an unsustainable use of our natural resources. The latest move in this direction is Senate Bill (SB) 302, recently approved by the Wisconsin Senate Natural Resources Committee.

SB 302 would restrict the Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) ability to regulate high-capacity wells and protect ground and surface water. It would prohibit the DNR from considering the cumulative impact of high-capacity wells on local resources and the people who rely on them.

This bill would undermine the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling that the DNR has “the authority and a general duty

.?.?. to consider the impact of a proposed high-capacity well on waters of the state.” (Lake Beulah Management District v. DNR, 2011)

SB 302 is the latest in a series of bills that weaken protection of natural resources, local control and the rights and voice of citizens. Some have recently become law and some are on track to become law. They include:

•?Assembly Bill 1/SB 1 eliminates contested case hearings, allows mining waste to be deposited in sensitive areas, allows groundwater contamination with minimal public health protections, and allows drawdown of lakes, rivers and streams.

•?Wisconsin Act 118 rolls back protection of wetlands, essential for native species habitat and water storage and purification.

•?SB 349 bars local governments from regulating the use of explosives in fracs and potentially iron mining, and from regulating or prohibiting a frac sand mine proposal.

•?SB 278 closes public access for virtually up to 3,500 acres of managed forestland for Gogebic Taconite without requiring back taxes to be repaid.

•?Chapter NR 115 revision exempts special classes of property owners from current limits on impervious surface development near lakes and rivers.

Changes in state law and direction, along with cuts to DNR staff and resources, have undermined effective protection of community natural resources, health, and the environment.

Susan Hedman, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regional administrator, stated, “The decline in enforcement activity in Wisconsin raises concerns about whether the state is adequately carrying out its responsibility to enforce the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and other federal laws that the Wisconsin DNR is authorized to implement.”

The EPA detailed 75 “apparent omissions and deviations” from federal law in the rules used by the state to issue permits and regulate federal clean water laws.

We need a policy of sustainable use of our natural resources. Future generations will need the clean air, abundant water and healthy environment we depend on for well being.

We need state laws that effectively protect our natural resources, a governor and Legislature that recognize the need for sustainability, and a strong local voice in matters that affect our communities and families.

Kathy Kascewicz


Tuesday, December 10, 2013 11:09 AM

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