Friday, February 4, 2011

New EPA Water Quality Rules; Wisconsin Context

The federal government is moving towards new rules to ensure the quality of drinking water. It's long overdue and a good extension of federal standard-setting that's been going on in the US for years.

Remember that some Republican legislators want Wisconsin to go in a different direction by proposing the elimination of a state rule that requires continuous disinfection of water by public water systems.

And this is part of the Walker administration's new anti-DNR stance: a smaller, weaker, less assertive DNR is somehow a good thing in the land of Gaylord Nelson, and where clean water brings tourists, new businesses and keeps residents happy and healthy.

Now I'm not a lawyer, but it seems to me that one of the DNR's roles is to enforce various clean air and water regulations approved by Congress and passed onto the EPA for administration.

Which the EPA passes on to the states, so in Wisconsin, that's a DNR role.

So as long as we have a Union, and an EPA, and I know that Newt Gingrich the other day said the EPA should be abolished - - that's just one fringe right-wing presidential wannabe in a crowded field looking for fresh meat to throw to throw to the base - - we'll need a DNR to enforce these federal rules.

So, you say, just eliminate the people at the DNR so the enforcement work can't happen, and, ha ha, more wetlands to fill, and clean water requirements to overlook.

Nope: what will happen is that feds will come in a direct that things get done, and without a vigorous DNR in place - - and the same thing could happen at the DOT with regard to land use, wetlands, endangered species and more - - there will be little-to-no local control and more direct control from the feds.

I'm not sure Walker & Co. really want that, but that could be the unintended consequence of stripping people and responsibilities and mission from agencies like the DNR or the DOT that could fall under the bureaucratic and ideological ax.


Anonymous said...

It would appear redundant if the role of the DNR is to enforce federal environmental laws. If drinking water standards are a function of the federal government then they should be doing the enforcement, not the DNR. Although public drinking water supplies are of great importance, do we have a duplication of effort paid for twice by the same taxpayer; once with your federal taxes and then again with your state taxes?

James Rowen said...

So you'd want the EPA to do all this management and enforcement in every community in the Country? Thank that through.

When the DNR does it, there is a level of local control by local people.