Sunday, July 30, 2017

Foxconn favors face WI Constitutional barrier

Scott Walker has told critics of his extraordinary giveaway to Foxconn of state resources - - including unprecedented exemptions from basic Wisconsin public-interest environmental rules and laws governing wetland-filling and stream re-routing and water contamination standards - - to 'go suck lemons."
Walker is introducing legislation ending for Foxconn adherence to basic DNR environmental water, wetlands and land use rules, along with PSC rules and policies, and also a dedicated quarter-billion dollars dedicated borrowing so WisDOT hurries to finish I-94 expansion from Milwaukee across Foxconnland to the Illinois state line, the Wisconsin State Journal reports
The bill lawmakers will consider as early as Tuesday allows the company to move or change the course of streams, build man-made bodies of water that connect with natural waterways and discharge materials in state wetlands without authorization from the state Department of Natural Resources. It exempts the company from being subject to an environmental impact statement...
And it will do this and more with the apparent, at least, ideological support of the Attorney General 

But while I'm having my morning coffee instead of a bowl of lemon wedges I'm wondering if Foxconn understands that in Wisconsin, the 9th amendment to the state constitution declares that you can't build into rivers and streams  or close off the public access to or otherwise deny people their ability to enjoy or appreciate the water because, as the DNR itself continues to say despite all the cumulative attacks on water that the Walker administration has for private benefit allowed and encouraged, "Wisconsin's waters belong to everyone.

Read it for yourself.

The public trust doctrine

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. 
In fact, the DNR goes on to cite a long-standing Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling - - the heart of which I've kept posted on the face page of my blog - - that emphasizes exactly what is wrong and unconstitutional about the scheme which Walker wants the Legislature to approve despite what every angler, boater, and hiker understands and puts into practice when they set out to enjoy what it is that makes Wisconsin, Wisconsin:
The court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions. "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) 
Let me also recommend a fine explanation of the Public Trust Doctrine by legal scholar Arlen Christenson which points out that the waters which Walker wants Foxconn to take over don't belong to Walker to give away:
“It holds that the state is the trustee of the waters of the state for the benefit of the people of the state,” Christenson said. “And so the trustee has a duty to care for, manage, improve and protect the water for the benefit of the citizens. It’s not as if the state owns the water, but the people are the beneficial owners of water, just as the beneficiaries of a trust...”
The Wisconsin Constitution states in article IX, section 1 that, “[T]he river Mississippi and the navigable waters leading into the Mississippi and St. Lawrence, and the carrying places between the same, shall be common highways and forever free, as well to the inhabitants of the state as to the citizens of the United States, without any tax, impost or duty therefor.” 
Christenson would later go on to say, “The idea that as the doctrine evolved, it was read to protect a variety of rights of water including the right to recreate, to fish, to hunt game, to enjoy scenic beauty and to enjoy clean and healthy water.”
More background on the Foxconn matter, here.

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