Clean-water Advocates Celebrate Ruling Against Dairy Group

A Jan. 11 ruling  by Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge William Pocan is being heralded by clean-water groups as a win for public health and transparent government. Judge Pocan sided with four environmental groups represented by Midwest Environmental Advocates when he ruled that an agreement between the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the state’s largest dairy business lobby violated state law. The November 2017 settlement agreement, which resulted from a lawsuit brought by the Dairy Business Association against the DNR, limited the DNR’s authority to protect water quality through the science-based application of state law intended to prevent pollution generated by Wisconsin’s largest concentrated livestock feeding operations. Four environmental advocacy groups – Clean Water Action Council of Northeast Wisconsin, Friends of the Central Sands, Milwaukee Riverkeeper and the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation – challenged the settlement on the basis that the agreement, negotiated behind closed doors, changed DNR pollution permitting policies and rules without going through the official rulemaking process. “This case illustrates the importance of public scrutiny and citizen action to hold industrial livestock operations and our government agencies accountable to the law,” said Midwest Environmental Advocates Staff Attorney Sarah Geers. “We are pleased that we were able to overturn this backroom deal between a special-interest group and the state agency that is supposed to protect our health and the health of our environment.” For more information on the DBA v. DNR case, visit Midwest Environmental Advocates’ website.