Friday, May 16, 2008

Mary Lazich Is Still Fighting The Sovereignty Debate

Fighting a states' rights issue pretty much resolved by the US Civil War, and apparently forgetting that the same language she is belly-aching about is in a 23-year-old federal water rights law, State Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) blogs to her constituents that she cast the lone Senate vote against the Great Lakes Compact because it gave up some of Wisconsin's sovereignty.

Still siding with her obstructionist, fringy allies in Ohio, Lazich grossly misinterprets the Compact and thus the federal law, and seems unaware that decisions of the Great Lakes Governors about water allocations can be appealed in court.

I think Lazich has another agenda:

If and when New Berlin strikes a deal to buy diverted Lake Michigan water from Milwaukee, Lazich will blast the terms if they include any premiums tied to regional, social or land use considerations.

Having already called some Milwaukee actions "extortion," (all these links to her blog are surely driving up her hit counts, so give me credit over there, Kevin), Lazich could point to her vote against the agreement and say, "bad idea, told you so."

It's mind-boggling that New Berlin is the only Great Lakes city in the nation with a diversion application pending, and the state senator representing that community is still out there opposing the very agreement that makes it likely that the diversion application will be approved.

I can't find one Lazich 2007 post on her blog where she expressed her outrage at Milwaukee's position on water transfers, but I did save it when she emailed it to me, so I can put it here, in text, below:

Subject: FYI-See column from 3/16/07
Date: Wed, 21 Mar 2007 13:54:29 -0500
From: "Sen.Lazich"

THE GREAT LAKES COMPACT IS FLAWED A legislative column by state Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin)

As a member of the Wisconsin Legislative Council Special Committee on the Great Lakes Water Resources Compact, I readily admit that I am not in a hurry to ratify the Great Lakes Compact. I cannot support a flawed document that is bad for public health, bad for the environment, bad for economic development, and generally bad public policy.

Mark Squillace, Director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado Law School has written a research paper titled Rethinking the Great Lakes Compact.

The Compact’s ideal goal is to protect, conserve, restore, improve and effectively manage the Great Lakes waters.

Squillace writes the prescription in the Compact is sorely inadequate for achieving the stated goal. The research paper to be published in the Michigan State Law Review can be found at

With surgical precision, Squillace dissects the Compact components, illuminating the reasons the document is far from being ready for prime time. The Compact is so problematic that Squillace suggests chucking it entirely and starting from scratch.

Absent of any strict cap on overall use of water resources, the probability of overuse of water is high. Thus, the Compact fails to encourage conservation.

A critical Compact requirement is that states manage new or increased water withdrawals, a requirement Squillace calls cumbersome.

Concentrating on new uses of consumption ignores existing uses of the resources that have a far more significant impact. This edict will result in a failure to protect lake levels and a failure to promote the ecological health of the Great Lakes Basin.

Squillace also contends the Compact focuses too much on the place of the water use instead of the impact of the use on the overall water resources of the Basin. Far from simple and efficient, the Compact forces states to regulate in a heavy-handed fashion that will impair economic development.

In conclusion, Squillace says the Compact will not achieve its goal of protecting and conserving the Great Lakes.

I agree.

Riddled with too many problems, the Compact is bad public policy.

Meanwhile, the need for New Berlin and Waukesha to obtain Lake Michigan water remains serious.

Because both communities must reduce the concentration of radium levels in their drinking water, their need for increased access to Lake Michigan water is in the interest of public health.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has made it clear he is going to stand in the way. Barrett is threatening the ability of New Berlin and Waukesha to gain access to Lake Michigan water, resulting in requiring those communities to spend millions of dollars to drill new wells and treat existing wells.

I am very concerned about allegations James Rowen posted on his blog, The Political Environment, on February 28, 2007.

Barrett is threatening not only to delay Waukesha’s access to Lake Michigan water but also to impose a tax on access to water.

The need for Lake Michigan water in New Berlin and Waukesha is critical and undeniable. It is unconscionable that Barrett would attempt to profit from this public health crisis by extorting these communities to pay a huge new tax.

Withholding water will endanger public health and will damage economic development. Barrett needs to reconsider his ill-conceived notion to take economic advantage of the public health plight in our communities.

If you have comments on this or any other issue, please contact me at, Senator Mary Lazich, State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882 Madison, WI 53707 or 1-800-334-1442.

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