Some members of the legislature are hell bent on adding to their list of attacks on protections of Wisconsin’s natural resources before the year is out. Confused by the bum-rush? That seems to be the intent. While we haven’t yet seen (as of today, anyway) an expected bill revising wetland protections, here are the two biggies:
1. Gutting Protections and Public Process for Mines
Assembly bill LRB 3520/1, written at the behest of an out-of-state mining company behind closed doors, dramatically weakens environmental protections, removes local citizens from the permit review process, and forces DNR to rubber stamp permits for new iron mines. Less than a week after the 183 bill saw the light of day, the Assembly will hold their public hearing in Milwaukee, more than 325 miles from the proposed mine site.
In a nutshell:
- The bill and the process by which it is being rammed through the legislature takes away the voice of Wisconsin citizens.
- It elevates mining above all other industries and businesses in the state, applying special rules that allow mines to bypass the environmental and public health requirements that apply to everyone else.
- It takes science out of decision making, from preventing experts from questioning the mining company’s data to cutting the permit review time so short, DNR literally won’t have the time to review information and make valid decisions.
The hearing will be held at State Fair Park, Tommy Thompson Youth Center, beginning at 10:00.
2. Fast-Tracking Development in Lakes and Rivers
While conservationists are headed to Milwaukee to oppose the Assembly’s mining bill on Wednesday, December14, both the Senate and Assembly Natural Resource Committees will be voting on the controversial bill that “streamlines” the permit process for private projects in our public waterways.
The tremendous outpouring of concern by many of you to your legislators and at the public hearing in October did make a difference. The authors have removed many of the most blatant special interest giveaways, but the rotten heart of the bill remains. Now known as SB 326 in the Senate and AB 421 in the Assembly, the bill still:
- Requires automatic approval for private projects in public waters;
- Places the burden of proving a project will be harmful on neighbors instead of requiring the developer to prove it won’t;
- Legalizes party decks and gazebos illegally built on lakes and rivers; and
- Stops DNR from limiting pier construction in the state’s most sensitive shore areas.
The Assembly Committee on Natural Resources and the Environment will meet at 9:30 in Room 412E of the Capitol
The Senate Natural Resources Committee will meet at 10:00 in Room 300 SE.
No public testimony will be taken, but don’t let them take their votes out of the public eye. If you can’t make the mining hearing in Milwaukee, take a few minutes of your Wednesday morning to let the committee members know, we are watching.