Cathy Stepp, Scott Walker's hand-picked corporate tool to merge the agency with corporate interests, has drastically cut back DNR enforcement activity to guarantee the preservation of clean air and water matters has the gall to tell the State Journal her behavior is but a matter of philosophy only.
It's a profound redefinition of the role of the DNR.
Look no farther than the DNR's webpage about the significance and extent of the constitutionally-protected (at least, pre-Stepp/Walker) "Public Trust Doctrine" to see how far Stepp and Walker are taking the agency away from mandates, legal orders and policy obligations established in the public interest.
Here is the heart of it, (and I will bold-face what Stepp/Walker have overturned in administratively relaxing clean air and water enforcement actions):
Wisconsin's Public Trust Doctrine requires the state to intervene to protect public rights in the commercial or recreational use of navigable waters. The DNR, as the state agent charged with this responsibility, can do so through permitting requirements for water projects, through court action to stop nuisances in navigable waters, and through statutes authorizing local zoning ordinances that limit development along navigable waterways.
The court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions. "A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)