Lazich Hints At Litigation To Blow Up Great Lakes Cooperation
This blog has posted numerous items about the efforts of State Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) to undermine the Great Lakes Compact.
And this blog has also pointed out several times that Lazich's obstruction of legislation in Wisconsin to implement the Compact is counter-productive to the effort that her home community of New Berlin is making to obtain Lake Michigan water.
The current Shepherd-Express goes over this ground again, but Lazich uses her exposure in the Milwaukee weekly to drop a bombshell: that New Berlin might go to court to try and wipe out the federal law that currently governs diversions of Great Lakes water.
It's not clear just what Lazich means by "New Berlin," since Jack Chiovatero, New Berlin's Mayor, supports the Compact, recognizing that it is the fastest route to a deal for Lake Michigan water.
And he has expressed frustration with Lazich's anti-Compact position - - one that is shared by powerful business interests, including the Metropolitan Builders Association and the Waukesha County Chamber of Commerce.
But going to court to knock out the federal law is regarded as the nuclear option in the Great Lakes region, the ultimate act of regional uncooperation.
That's because, if successful, the Great Lakes - - all five of them that touch eight states and two Canadian provinces, and that contain 20% of the world's fresh surface waters - - would be left without any protection against wholesale, whimsical, unjustifiable and flat-out greedy withdrawals of water.
And without any conservation planning or requirements that equal amounts of water taken from the Great Lakes be returned to sustain this vast, two-nation ecosystem.
The Great Lakes Compact would have installed a series of rules and procedures for New Berlin to obtain Lake Michigan water that are easier to meet than what is contained in the federal law.
If Lazich truly represented the public interest, she'd have been a leader in getting the Compact adopted.
Instead, she a) helped insure that no bill is moving forward in the Legislature to accomplish that, and b) is talking about wiping out the remaining law which the Compact, in coordination with the federal law, would help make diversion procedures more reasonable.
All to help sustain the Great Lakes. They're the only ones on the planet, and they are held in trust for all the people of all the states and provinces, making stewardship of this resource a shared responsibility.
There has been a spate of stories in recent weeks about damage that the US Corps of Engineers has done through dredging in a key Great Lakes tributary that appears linked to huge water losses daily from the lakes into the Atlantic Ocean.
Congress, the Canadians, and many organizations are marshaling resources to try and pinpoint and repair the damage so that water levels in the Great Lakes can be stabilized.
Imagine if all that political, scientific and engineering work were to finally get launched - - only to have one State Senator from New Berlin, Wisconsin help to blow open a bigger hole in the Great Lakes.
Look back to Wisconsin's conservation history. You'd have the Aldo Leopold Legacy - - defining for the state and country what a land ethic really is.
Then you've got former Governor and US Senator Gaylord Nelson's Legacy - - Earth Day, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, preservaton of the Apostle Islands, and more.
Then you could have the Lazich Legacy - - leadership to litigate, then lower the water levels, in the former Great Lakes.
I am not surprised by Lazich's stance to support the builders and business (who want unfettered access to the Great Lakes no matter the cost to the lakes themselves) over the crucial needs of her constituents for this Compact (which is their best route to get Great Lakes water).
Lazich has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from those interests she is catering to. Here's a breakdown of the monies she's received from the interests she's catering to (from opensecrets.org):
Banking & Finance $49,164.00
Manufacturing & Distributing $47,900.00
Real Estate $16,280.00
The contributions Lazich has received from these business interests total more than $175,000! Meanwhile, she's received less than $12k total from natural resources interests.
She is clearly catering to those who are willing to pay.
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