Letter to the Editor: State of Our Environment

As April 22, 2016, Earth Day, approaches one has to wonder how our state is faring in aspiring to unite, appreciate and respect our environment. We should all be mindful and cognizant of what the legislators and the governor are doing with our natural resources. Since January they have pushed though many bills that are far from protecting our land and water.

They repealed a law that required certain safeguards be in place before permitting a nuclear power plant. Other bills are attacking Wisconsin’s water; permitting high capacity wells without considering the cumulative impact. A bill exempting fish farms from finding alternatives to wetlands. One bill proposed by Representative Jarchow and Senator Lasee completely undermined public input and local control by expanding “vested rights.” If a developer applies for a permit for a project from one entity, like the State DNR or a different municipality then the developer has a “vested right” in the project and the local municipality would be forced to allow the project. This bill takes away the rights of local governments and ignores the idea that what makes sense in one part of the state might not make sense in another. This bill has passed in the Assembly but not the Senate yet. The state Attorney General issued an opinion in favor of a CAFO that says that the agency cannot limit the number of cows at a facility or require groundwater monitoring to protect the neighbors. Does this mean that the DNR cannot limit the amount of pollution coming out of an industry’s pipe or monitor the body of water being polluted? It seems to me we are seeing the continued demise of local control in this state along with a danger to our water supply.

Instead of having a DNR with a technical capacity, the Legislature and the governor have stripped the DNR of most of its scientists and personnel in the last budget cuts. It seems that maybe the cuts to the DNR budget is a way for the proposals to sell public land to political contributors might be an end result.

So there you have it, what do you think? After receiving Senator Lasee’s recent flyer on his priorities to make our state better he says he’s going to “lead the charge to help focus the DNR away from writing ticky-tack citations and focus on things which actually protect the environment.” According to the bills that have been passed that statement seems to be questionable. This is our state and we as citizens need to be aware, to care and to protect this land and our water supply for everyone’s use, not just to those who have the money to buy what they want. What good are lower taxes if you can’t live on the land or have safe water to drink?


Carol Schmidt

Baileys Harbor, Wis.

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