Saturday, April 19, 2008

Pressure Your Legislators For a Compact Hearing

There's no good reason for the Great Lakes Compact to be pushed through a rushed Special Session without a full public hearing.

Call your legislators. Tell them the public should be heard, and that requires that amendments to the bill should be aired publicly, not just discussed and written among lobbyists, legislators and administration officials.

As things stand now, Waukesha County politicos are carving an interim period into the amendments that will permit eased diversions without required return of diverted water, based on prior diversions that were approved by the Wisconsin DNR without the full approval of the other Great Lakes states.

The interim period would begin when the bill is passed and ends when the Compact is approved by all eight states and the Congress - - a period ranging from years to infinite.

That's hardly in the spirit of, or to, the letter and intent of the Compact, which sets up uniform diversions rules, procedures and return flow mandates.

Letting some diversions proceed without all the states' approval, or mandated return flow just because in the past, Wisconsin custom (sic) or process (sic) allowed it ruins the Compact for Wisconsin and weakens it across the region.

This very lack of process as precedent was warned against by-then Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager in 2006 precisely because the Department of Natural Resources was publicly saying it had the power to allow diversions that skirted existing federal law and would be barred once the Compact is approved.

I have posted references to this opinion a half-dozen times on my blog: major media refuse to report on it.

A public hearing about the pending amendments can inform the public and deter legislators from intentionally opening loopholes in the Compact's implementation in wisconsin.

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