Conservation Scorecard Reveals Bipartisan Conservation Cooperation
Engaged Conservation Voters Trumping Polluters
Madison – The Conservation Scorecard 2013-2014 reports a mixed bag for conservation issues in the past legislative session. Overall, 50% of the pro-conservation bills supported by Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters were signed into law. Of the biggest defensive measures, conservation interests were successful 75% of the time.
“More than anything, this year’s Conservation Scorecard tells the story of the power of individuals to successfully protect their air, land, and water. It’s their efforts that prevented the terrible groundwater bill and both frac sand mining bills from ever seeing the light of day,” said Anne Sayers, Program Director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.
Highlights from the session included bills to improve water quality and prevent toxins like lead and prescription drugs from contaminating our drinking water, all of which passed with strong bipartisan support. The biggest attack on natural resources was the Open-Pit Mining Bill, which exempted iron mines from having to meet most environmental laws. It passed despite the historic outpouring of citizen opposition.
The Conservation Scorecard 2013-2014 by the numbers:
- Average Senate score: 65%
- Average Assembly score: 74%
- Number of Senate Conservation Champions (100% score): 10
- Number of Assembly Conservation Champions (100% score): 35
- Number of Senators with 75% and higher: 15
- Number of Representatives with 75% and higher: 41
- Number of anti-conservation Senators (0% score): 0
- Number of anti-conservation Representatives (0% score): 0
- Number of pro-conservation bills: 5
- Number of pro-conservation laws: 4
“We were happy to see glimmers of Wisconsin’s nonpartisan conservation legacy this session. And we applaud the thousands of citizens whose engagement helped to make that happen. However, the reality is that we just don’t see Wisconsin decision makers stepping up to the plate to pro-actively tackle the most important issues, like groundwater management, protections against frac sand mining, and renewable energy development. Wisconsin voters are eager for true conservation leadership,” concluded Sayers.
To view the Conservation Scorecard 2013-2014, please visit www.conservationvoters.org.
CONSERVATION HONOR ROLL
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters understands that the “black and white” nature of a Scorecard sometimes makes it difficult to recognize those instances where legislators went the extra mile for natural resources. The Conservation Honor Roll recognizes the following legislators for the extra effort they put forth to conserve Wisconsin’s natural resources.
REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT KRUG
Finding solutions to Wisconsin’s groundwater problems is a challenging undertaking. In the midst of attempts in the Senate to make it even more difficult, Representative Krug was meeting with local stakeholders in his area about how to proactively address water shortages in the state’s most troubled groundwater area, the Central Sands. While no compromise could be reached, Representative Krug deserves credit for working to bring people together to constructively solve the problem.
SENATORS JENNIFER SHILLING & KATHLEEN VINEHOUT & REP. CHRIS DANOU
In the last five years, Wisconsin frac sand facilities have grown from less than a handful to more than one hundred. This relatively new industry has little oversight, which has meant significant consequences for Wisconsin’s environment, public health, and quality of life. Senators Shilling and Vinehout and Representative Danou led the effort to secure additional DNR positions for permitting, compliance, and monitoring of frac sand operations. They were also outspoken advocates when SB 349 and SB 632 attempted to prevent local communities from addressing the threats of frac sand mining.
CONSERVATION DISHONOR ROLL
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters also understands that there are times when a poor Scorecard score doesn’t do enough to illustrate just how far some legislators will go to jeopardize Wisconsin’s natural resources. Actions by the following legislators are grossly out-of-line with the conservation values of their constituents.
SENATOR THOMAS TIFFANY
Senator Tiffany was the lead author on nearly every divisive anti-conservation bill that was signed into law this session, including the Open-Pit Mining Bill (SB 1). He was also the author of the wildly unpopular bills to strip local communities’ ability to enforce public health and safety protections (SB 349 & SB632). Senator Tiffany makes a habit out of putting out-of-state polluters before the people of Wisconsin.
SENATOR FRANK LASEE
Senator Lasee is leading a one-man attack on Wisconsin’s clean energy economy, regularly introducing new ways to undermine large-scale wind developments. Senator Lasee offered up several bills such as SB 167 that created outrageous loopholes to keep legitimately sited wind projects from going forward. Fortunately, his attacks on clean energy are widely recognized as out-of-touch by citizens and legislators alike.
SENATOR NEAL KEDZIE
Senator Kedzie was on the very first Conservation Honor Roll for his efforts to protect groundwater. But a decade later, despite growing evidence of serious groundwater problems cropping up around the state, Senator Kedzie led the charge to pass SB 302, a bill that was a groundwater giveaway to frac sand mining companies, factory farms, and other large water users. Fortunately, his efforts failed.
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization to electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable, and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin’s natural resources and public health.