Instead of Climate Change Legislation, Wisconsin’s Legislature and Governor Pass Laws to Relax or Prohibit Protection of State’s 15,074 Lakes, Rivers and Streams

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Just in the past year, the GOP-led Wisconsin Legislature, at the behest of mainly agriculture, construction and real estate interests, has approved numerous bills to relax or prohibit state and local efforts to regulate, safeguard or even monitor the state’s lakes, rivers, and streams. Between January 2011 and December 2015, those special interests contributed about $2.7 million to Republican legislators and nearly $9 million to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Here are a few of those controversial measures:

Assembly Bill 603, which creates new standards for placing structures along the shores of lakes and rivers, and prohibits counties from using zoning ordinances to regulate or restrict shoreline construction projects, like boathouses and fishing rafts, among others. The measure, which was backed by agriculture, construction and real estate interests, was signed into law by Walker.

The 2015-17 state budget, which was approved by the legislature and signed by Walker last summer, prohibits Dane County from making wastewater, sewage and other water quality decisions. Instead, the Department of Natural Resources is in charge of water quality decisions for Dane County. The DNR is required to base its decisions on water quality standards outlined in state law, rather than stricter local standards, and to make decisions on applications to revise the plan for new real estate developments within 90 days. The DNR is also banned from working with the county or its other local governments on the water quality plan or changes to it. The non-fiscal measure was tucked into the budget and passed at the request of developers.

The 2015-17 state budget, which prohibits counties from adopting zoning rules stricter than state law when it comes to what shoreline property owners can do with their property. Zoning rules govern how close structures can be to water, lot sizes, building maintenance, and vegetation, among other things, in order to protect water quality in streams, rivers, and lakes. The plan strips at least 20 counties of their right to have zoning and shoreland protection rules stricter than state law. The non-spending measure was inserted into the budget with the backing of construction and real estate interests.

Senate Bill 459, which loosens state regulations and restricts local control involving waterways and the land around them, dry lake beds, wetlands, storm water control systems and other man-made ditches, and rules governing the repair of piers and boathouses. The measure, which was approved by the legislature and sent to Walker, is backed by agriculture, construction, real estate, and business interests.

SB493, which would reduce the state’s authority to regulate fish farms. The measure, which was approved and sent to Walker, expands the permissible bodies of water where fish farms can be built; loosens requirements on the amount of water that dams on fish farms may control or discharge; and exempts man-made ponds, wetlands, and roads on fish farms from DNR permit requirements. The measure was backed by the agriculture and restaurant industries.

Text from Wisconsin Democracy Campaign

About Mike Neuman

Identical twin; Long-time advocate of protection of our environment; Married; Father to three sons; Grandfather to one granddaughter; Born and raised in Wisconsin; Graduate of University of Wisconsin; post graduate degrees in agricultural economics and Water Resources Management fro UWMadison; Former School Crossing Guard for City of Madison; Bike to Work for 31 years with Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources; Retired from DNR in 2007; Biked to school crossing guard site 2 X daily for 7 years retiring in 2019; in addition to being an advocate of safeguarding our environment, I am also an advocate for humane treatment of animal, children, and people in need of financial resource for humane living. I am presently a Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity, Madison, Wisconsin. I oppose all long (>500 miles) distance travel (via fossil fuel burning) for nonessential purposes and all ownership of more than one home. I am opposed to militarism in any form particularly for the purpose of monetary gain. I am a Strong believer in people everywhere having the right to speak their minds openly, without any fear of reprisal, regarding any concerns; especially against those in authority who are not acting for the public good?in a timely fashion and in all countries of the world not just the U S.. My identical twin, Pat, died in June 2009. He was fired from his job with the National Weather Service despite having a long and successful career as a flood forecaster with the Kansas City National Weather Service. He took a new position in the Midwest Regional Office in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, Pat’s work for the NWS went sour after he began to see the evidence for concern about rising global temperatures shortly after relocating to Minneapolis, and how they appeared to effect of flooding on the Red River that flows out of Canada before entering the U.S. in North Dakota. . Pat and I conversed on a regular basis with other scientists on the Yahoo Group named “Climate Concern “ and by personal email. The NWS denied his recommendation to give his public presentation o n his research at the “Minneapolis Mall of America” in February 2000, which deeply affected h,im. I will h He strongly believed the information ought be shared with the public to which I concurred. That was the beginning of the vendetta against my brother, Patrick J. Neuman, for speaking strongly of the obligations the federal government was responsible for accurately informing the citizenry. A way great similar response to my raising the issue of too many greenhouse gases being emitted by drivers of vehicles on Wisconsin highway system, my immediate supervisors directed: “that neither global warming, climate change nor the long term impacts upon the natural resources of Wisconsin from expansion of the state highway system were to be any part of my job requirements, and that I must not communicate, nor in a memorandum to all the bureau, shall any person who works in the same bureau I do communicate with me, neither verbally on the phone, by email.

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