The Walker administration and key legislative allies were no friends of the environment in the just-concluded session, according to the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, but there were honorees, too.
Its scorecard and highlights are here.
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters understands that the black and white nature of a Scorecard sometimes makes it difficult to recognize those instances where legislators went the extra mile for natural resources.
The Conservation Honor Roll recognizes the following legislators for the extra effort they put forth to conserve Wisconsin’s natural resources.
Senators Robert Jauch and Dale Schultz and Representative Janet Bewley
When an out-of-state mining company sought to rewrite our conservation and public input laws for their own benefit (AB 426), Sens. Jauch and Schultz and Rep. Bewley stood up for public health, our waters, and local community involvement. Their efforts ensured that the voices of Wisconsin residents were heard and the open-pit mining bill was defeated.
Senator Chris Larson and Representative Cory Mason
Sen. Larson and Rep. Mason led the fight in their respective committees to restore key protections for wetlands (SB 368). They worked with sportsmen and scientists to get amendments adopted that would have restored protections for our most sensitive wetlands.
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters also understands that there are times when a poor Scorecard score doesn’t do enough to illustrate just how far some legislators will go to jeopardize Wisconsin’s natural resources. Actions by the following legislators are grossly out-of-line with the conservation values of their constituents.Conservation Dishonor Roll
Governor Scott Walker
Governor Walker’s budget was one of the most anti-conservation in history. He sought to eliminate water quality rules, local recycling programs, and clean energy programs. Gov. Walker used special sessions to reward special interests seeking exemptions from wetlands, water quality, and wind siting rules and politicized natural resource protections by making the key public representatives to the DNR answerable to him. He even eliminated the consideration of the “environment and public health” from the state’s rule making process.
Senator Scott Fitzgerald
Sen. Fitzgerald pulled the plug on the Senate Mining Committee within forty-eight hours of a public hearing. The action indicated that he believed his colleagues were taking too long to do the bidding of the out-of-state mining company. Despite his attempts to shut the public out of the process and ram the open-pit mining bill (AB 426) through the Senate in the last days of the session, the bill ultimately died when the full Senate unanimously sent it back to committee.
Senator Neal Kedzie and Representative Jeff Mursau
As Chairmen of the Natural Resources Committees, Sen. Kedzie and Rep. Mursau drafted legislation that would have gutted water permitting and wetland regulations (SB 326 & SB 368). It was only the overwhelming public opposition to these plans that forced the chairs to slow down the process and make significant changes to the water permitting program legislation. Unfortunately, the Chairs did not work with sportsmen to improve the wetlands bill and its passage is a ding on their conservation legacy.