Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Awaiting state, federal moves on WI water, land issues

Just a reminder that Scott Walker's intentionally degraded and special-interest managed 'chamber of commerce mentality' Department of Natural Resources is still reviewing several environmentally-sensitive and politically-influenced high-profile proposals.

Now that the election is over, and DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp is off the Trump speaking circuit and can devote full-time to her day job and clean up missed deadlines and other reporting issues, I'd expect some movement on these controversial plans, though potential litigation as well as input from local officials, the US Army Corps of Engineers and the US Environmental Protection Agency could mean that DNR actions and decisions can't be considered final.

*  An upscale, privately-owned eighteen hole golf course proposed by the Kohler Co. on a 247-acre water, dune and Native American artifact-rich wooded nature preserve adjoining Kohler Andrae State Park south of Sheboygan. The plan includes some intrusion into the park, and is further complicated by the company's refusal to submit a formal proposal which the DNR, other agencies and the public could then focus on with precision.

*  A 26,000-hog feeding and manure producing operation within smelling distance of Lake Superior in NW Wisconsin proposed by a major Iowa pork provider. It would be the largest hog operation in Wisconsin and there is organizing against it in the same areas where opponents helped kill a proposed 22-mile long, half-a-mile-wide open-pit iron ore mine.

*  An expansion of the Golden Sands Dairy cattle feeding and manure producing operation in Juneau and Wood Counties. Again, opponents have been raising crucial land, air and water pollution concerns.

All of these proposals will have impacts on ground and surface water quality and supply levels - - statewide health and equity matters so significant that the US Environmental Protection Agency just paid a record-checking visit to the DNR after citizen and organizations' complaints catalogued the Walker administration's studious dismissal of state water obligations under federal clean water law.

A public session this week in Eau Claire on the state's water law enforcement record  may lead to either remedial federal-mandated actions or state promises to do a better job - - and it is not clear how such outcomes could affect the big projects under DNR review.

Update: Here is one media account of the Eau Claire meeting.

So stay tuned. And involved.

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