Thursday, July 8, 2021

Water protection, public health got a big WI win Thursday

A huge salute to the dedicated public policy lawyers at Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin for their win in the State Supreme Court that will protect groundwater and public health in Wisconsin for years to come. 

An unusual alliance of Wisconsin justices ruled Thursday that environmental regulators could consider the effects on surrounding areas when they issue water and wastewater permits to dairy farms and businesses.  

The pair of rulings were a setback for Republican legislators who passed a law a decade ago that sought to limit how the Department of Natural Resources and other state agencies review permit applications. 

I have been writing about these matters for years, and have focused on the partisan and special-interest maneuvers that continually put money and insider-access over public health - 

Policy dedication to science, data and public opinion - particularly when it came to water supply and quality matters - had been flushed away during the Walker years, as I noted in a 21-part blog series in 2018:

...take note of this unbelievable, no, very believable story published just yesterday about Walker's DNR, aided by GOP AG Brad Schimel and GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos:

Wisconsin permits wells in areas judge ruled pumping would harm trout streams

I'd written about this lever-pulling-industry-to Vos-to-Schimel-to the DNR-and back-to-industry-judiciary-and-the-public-be-damned network before:

Wisconsin officials tilt land, water, conservation to corporate goals

...Including [Schimel's] issuance of a favorable opinion that granted large-scale groundwater withdrawals to big operators which they had openly demanded GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos deliver. 

While Wisconsin is abusing, over pumping and contaminating our groundwater, the Legislature's GOP Assembly Leader Robin Vos - - a leading Wisconsin corporate water-carrier - - is seeking an opinion from GOP Attorney General and fellow corporate water-carrier Brad Schimel that could turn over more groundwater to corporate control and away from public oversight...
 the state's water crisis.
River Alliance of Wisconsin photos

Dead Brookie

Those impacts on the Little Plover River have long been recorded, as this story noted four years ago tomorrow, April 7, and cited events dating to 2005:

A now completed report confirms what researchers revealed last year: high-capacity wells in the Central Sands region of the state are affecting the water flow in the Little Plover River.

The Class 1 trout stream — which begins near Plover and flows into the Wisconsin River — has dried up several times, starting in 2005.

One of the report’s authors, state geologist Ken Bradbury said the river’s problems are tied to an increase in high-capacity wells.

And let's not forget that Vos worked hand-in-hand with then GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel so the state would accede to big ag's hand-delivered demand for guaranteed access to state groundwater - which in turn led to litigation that reversed some of this blatant exercise of special interest power.

- but today is a day to salute the advocates who persisted.

And there's plenty more work to do, especially since that while the Supreme Court ruling tells the DNR it has the legal authority to get serious about its public purposes, the agency is still subject to the direction and  whims of the oversight Wisconsin Natural Resources Board whose Walker-appointed chair refuses to relinquish his seat though his term has expired, and that keeps Walker and their corporate-and-partisan-obesiant appointees in the majority. 

And that's wrong.


Katrina said...

Let's also salute the anonymous state employees whose recommendations on CAFO and High Capacity well permit conditions were often overruled by political appointees within the DNR. It is good that the SCOWI recognized that data and science should supersede politics.

James Rowen said...

Absolutely. There are unsung heroes aplenty.


...this ruling will change farming forever in Wisconsin. It has taken years to get this decision, and we have wasted years of precious time waiting...farming knows exactly what should have been done decades ago...when WATER was introduced onto the farm, well everything changed...water created their problems...and the environment just got worse every day..! We can not blame the animals...they have done nothing wrong, the problem is with their owners! The DNR workgroups have spent years working on suggestions that would have made a difference the very next day...if only Mr. Scott Walker had listened..we now have a new GOVERNOR and DNR and things are moving quickly...the 5,800,000+ people of Wisconsin deserve better, and the farmers need to follow the rules, the "STEWARDS OF THE LAND" need to MAN-UP..! Farming created these pollution issues and the farmers must fix it...they own it..!