Friday, October 9, 2015

Well water deregulation pols awash in Big WI Ag cash

There is a battle-of-the-ages in the State Capitol and Legislature right now over water rights - - despite Wisconsin constitutional protections, long-standing court rulings and current DNR policy that put the public's trust ownership of water and access to it first - -  but money from huge special interests could easily tip the balance their way with an even more corporately-compliant State Supreme Court waiting to validate the giveaways.

You'll be hearing a lot about the need to 'streamline' the process for big water withdrawal applicants, but do you remember what 'streamlining' meant for the GTac iron mine as the so-called iron mining 'reform' bill got shoved through the Legislature?

It meant certainty for the company at the public's expense because permit review periods in the bill (now law) came with guaranteed approval deadlines - - and we're hearing that the big water users expect to receive that kind of 'certainty,' too - - but where is the certainty for downstream anglers, or well owners, or everyday residents who have every right to water and its certain availability, too?

In fact, here's that kind of language again in this invitation sent to commercial real estate interests for a meeting with DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp:
Meet the DNR Secretary – Cathy Stepp
October 15 @ 4:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Secretary, Cathy Stepp from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will talk about issues that are important to the commercial real estate industry. 
She’ll discuss how her administration has concentrated on improving DNR’s customer relations and streamlining and simplifying permitting. 
Remember, that's why she got the appointment:
“I wanted someone with a chamber-of-commerce mentality,” Walker said.
Thanks to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for an early warning about some of the big money in the water rights play:
Agricultural interests, which contributed $2.6 million to Republican Gov. Scott Walker and current legislators in recent years, support a legislative proposal that would reduce state oversight of controversial high-capacity wells...
Large-scale vegetable growers and livestock operations, often called factory farms, are among the top users of high-capacity wells in the agriculture industry. Factory farm owners and employees were also among the agriculture industry’s top individual campaign contributors, and one of them also spent tens of thousands of dollars lobbying during the first six months of 2015 on developing groundwater legislation. 
Topping the list of contributions from factory farm operators were the owners and employees of Milk Source, in Kaukauna, who gave about $164,000 to Walker and current legislators between January 2010 and December 2014. Most of the contributions from Milk Source, which runs about a half-dozen farm operations around the state, were doled out by its owners: John and Keri Vosters, of Freedom, $60,700; Todd Willer, of Freedom, $47,100; and James Ostrom, of De Pere, $37,750. 
Last year, Milk Source’s Richfield Dairy in Adams County was involved in a legal challenge, which it won, in which a state administrative law judge blasted the DNR for using narrow guidelines to assess and grant permits for high-capacity wells.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a very big issue that every citizen should be concerned about. Walker, his Republican legislators and Stepp at the DNR are attempting once again to rape Wisconsin's resources, this time water to pay back the CAFCO'S and BIG AG for their financial support and backing since Walker took over as king in Wisconsin. If this isn't stopped not only rural residents but urban areas are going to have wells sucked dry as these huge corporations are given unlimited access to the groundwater aquifers that serve Wisconsin's water needs!. We all know if this gets to the Wisconsin Supreme Court the water giveaway will be sanctioned as legal. The Capitol might need to be occupied again as there are few Republican legislators who if they aren't on the receiving end of corporation dollars don't march in line with Walker on all issues.