Maybe it's time to put up signs at the Wisconsin border that say "Contaminated Waters Ahead. Entering FUBAR zone."
The Journal Sentinel editorial board today endorses a plan backed by big water polluters to undo a carefully crafted existing phosphorous pollution-abatement state law, give polluters up to an extra 20 years before ending their water-contaminated phosphorous discharges - - favoring instead slow, incremental 'progress' - - while making payments into a cleanup fund that would raise less than one-half-of-one percent of the estimated statewide cleanup cost.
Does the editorial board think the Wisconsin Constitution's Article IX, The Public Trust doctrine, is no longer worth respecting?
Where, in this state that has produced Gaylord Nelson, Aldo Leopold and John Muir, is the biggest statewide newspaper's unambiguous Public Trust Doctrine defense where state rivers, streams, lakes and groundwater - - everyone's waters - - are under threat, if not outright attack.
The newspaper has been a strong supporter of improvements and protections for the Great Lakes - - but along with rain and snow, how does the board think those waters are naturally replenished and filtered if not by the waters that flow across and through the state and empty through wetlands and sloughs into Lake Superior and Lake Michigan?
Why would anyone support slowing down the phosphorous that leads to choking weeds, and, for that matter, back a gargantuan open-pit iron ore mine, as the editorial board has done repeatedly, in the Bad River watershed that is perilously close to Lake Superior, and that will produce multiple millions of tons of rock and vegetation being dumped into a watershed's waterways, and on to land through which acid mine runoff could permeate into in rice-growing beds, other the waters and into the Big Lake.
Whatever happened to this guiding water preservation and public access principle enunciated by the Wisconsin State Supreme court in a 1966 decision that helped make the state a sought-after, multi-billion-dollar-a-year outdoors recreation destination?
Is the wisdom in that court ruling considered a conservation relic by the newspaper these days? - - old-timey and out-of-step with the one-dimensional, corporate-induced 'reforms ' proposed or written into law on behalf of big businesses and GOP donors since Walker's election have have deliberately worn down the Public Trust Doctrine by easing mining restrictions, wetlands protections, groundwater conservation and shoreline preservations.
As the Court said:
"A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)Here is how the DNR, even in Walker's era, defines state water and the people's right to it as guaranteed by the state - - not removed or watered-down by the state, as would this phosphorous-enabling bill:
Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone
Wisconsin lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens under the state's Public Trust Doctrine. Based on the state constitution, this doctrine has been further defined by case law and statute. It declares that all navigable waters are "common highways and forever free", and held in trust by the Department of Natural Resources.