Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
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One Million Acres of Wetlands Endangered

Republican bill backed by big business could eliminate one-fifth of state’s wetlands.

By - Oct 3rd, 2017 10:38 am
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Wetland. Photo from WDC.

Wetland. Photo from WDC.

A GOP legislative proposal would allow thousands of acres of Wisconsin wetlands to be developed without state scrutiny.

The measure would eliminate state authority to review and regulate isolated wetlands, which are wetlands not connected to navigable waters, such as rivers and lakes. The bill would require land owners and developers to replace the natural wetlands they are filling with man-made wetlands at a ratio of 1.2 acres to 1 acre. However, the Department of Natural Resources would no longer have the authority to do an environmental review and assess the ecological impacts of such projects.

Supporters of the proposal say the 2001 state law that protects isolated wetlands is too prohibitive because it classifies empty lots and farm fields with potholes and other depressions as wetlands because they retain rainwater.

GOP Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, of Kaukauna, said the bill was pushed by the business community, and that current law was too restrictive on landowners and the construction industry for developing marginal land. The bill’s sponsors are Steineke, Rep. Rob Stafsholt, of New Richmond, and Senate President Roger Roth, of Appleton. Roth’s family owns a construction company. Stafsholt is a farmer and owns a rental and real estate investment business.

The proposal could affect up to one million acres of the state’s 5.3 million acres of wetlands, Erin O’Brien, the Wisconsin Wetlands Association’s policy director, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Wetlands are ecologically valuable because they filter water, control flooding and are wildlife habitats.

The measure is backed by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business group, which claimed it struck a balance between economic development and protecting high quality wetlands.

WMC secretly raised and spent an estimated $18.6 million since January 2010 on outside electioneering activities to support Republican and conservative legislative and statewide candidates. WMC spent an estimated $220,000 to help elect Roth to the Senate in 2014.

WMC also represents more than a dozen special interests, including business, real estate, and construction, which contributed $16.7 million since January 2011 to current Republican legislators. Republicans comfortably control the legislature with a 20-13 majority in the Senate and a 64-35 majority in the Assembly.

3 thoughts on “Campaign Cash: One Million Acres of Wetlands Endangered”

  1. Adam says:

    So the WI GOP current economic development strategy is to pay 3 billion US dollars cash to a Taiwanese company in exchange for a couple manufacturing jobs and let’s destroy our wetlands. What visionaries we have running this state.
    Boot these neanderthals out for heaven’s sake!
    Democrats do I need to be your campaign strategist? Point the above absurdities out and then talk about how investing in education, infrastructure and sustainability will secure our economic future. This really shouldn’t be that difficult.

  2. Aggie says:

    We will be lucky if we only end up with the 3 billion dollar bill. It looks like the going price for chasing the Amazon deal is now up to 10 billion and our current government would jump at the chance to sign us all up for it.

    If the people of WI really wanted to deal with the traffic, out of control real estate prices, and urban sprawl of Chicago and its suburbs, they would have moved there years ago.

    I don’t understand the need to change our environmental/sportsman culture into the next superfund industrial park…More doesn’t always equate to better.

  3. Why do we continuously have people representing the citizens of Wi and and the united States who have absolutly zero education in eviromental resources and yet are left like a toddler with a sharp knife to make crucial decisions about the well being of our State the country and the planet! I do relize that so many GOPer’s are attached some place unmentionable to some corrporate 1%’er so they seem only to see that making mega amouts of money count for anything ,I just wonder how much it will cost to buy oxygen when it becomes hard to find as all the extict frog,bees and salamanders..

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