As you have noticed, I have been out forcefully talking about the now defunct mining bill. Matt sent you my op-ed column earlier today – I wanted you to see it before it was out in the media. A few of you have sent emails with concerns about it.
Since I came to DNR, we have been very careful to only respond to legislative questions while bills work their way through the law-making process. And while mining was active in the legislature, I kept politics out of the entire process and availed our staff to all legislators to provide information so they could make decisions based on sound science and common sense.
But throughout that time, I had a growing frustration that lawmakers and others were publicly impugning and denigrating the ability of DNR employees to make an environmentally sound evaluation and decision, to do their jobs. I’d match our staff expertise and integrity against any comers.
Now that that the voting is over, I am stepping up and adding my opinion to the post-mortem on the mining bill. I feel strongly it’s my job to make sure that the failure to move forward with mining in Wisconsin is not laid at DNR’s feet. DNR DOES have the ability and resolve to apply standards and make sound decisions on environmental permitting.
I know it is new for a DNR secretary to come out and hit "hard" against these unfounded criticisms. But I did it for wolf management and I am doing it for mining. Failure in the past to defend against unfair blame being placed on the agency has undoubtedly contributed to the “bad rap” DNR sometimes gets and we all dislike.
Make no mistake. When I am out talking about this, I am not making it a strictly partisan issue. Fact is, I spared no criticism for either Democrats OR Republicans.
The time has come to educate our public that we were ready, willing and FULLY able to carry out our duties and environmental protections on mining -- and any other major initiative that requires our expertise.
Thanks, I value your opinions and your trust, and it was important for me to share with you the reasons for me speaking out.