Remember When Gov. Walker Tried to Trash Recycling?
Second Entry in ‘Walker’s Wisconsin’ Series
MADISON – As part of its Field Guide to Taking Back Wisconsin campaign, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters released its second entry in its Walker’s Wisconsin series today. The series recounts Gov. Scott Walker’s extreme anti-conservation agenda and outlines just how far he’s taken our state, once considered a conservation model, to somewhere that’s hardly recognizable.
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters will update the Walker’s Wisconsin series via media releases, website, and social media every two weeks until Wisconsin elects a new governor in November. Walker’s Wisconsin concentrates on five categories – air, climate change, democracy, land, and water.
To read more, visit the Field Guide at conservationvoters.org/field-guide.
Walker hid the evidence of air pollution
Walker signed a bill in March of 2017 (2017 Act 466) that prohibits the Department of Natural Resources from submitting to the EPA air pollution data from a monitoring site at Kohler-Andrae State Park because it shows unhealthy levels of pollution. The law hides evidence of air pollution in an attempt to skirt compliance with federal Clean Air Act standards and allow more pollution in the area. Unsafe levels of pollution can cause premature death for those with existing respiratory and pulmonary health conditions. Long-term exposure to unsafe levels of pollution can permanently damage the lungs and hearts of children. Walker’s signature on this piece of legislation will make it harder for kids to breathe.
Walker took big money from big polluters
Liquid manure is poisoning water across Wisconsin. Wisconsin families cannot drink their water, and yet the Dairy Business Association has lobbied for looser rules and policies that continue to exacerbate an environmental emergency. DBA lobbyists met with Walker last year to encourage moving more authority away from the Department of Natural Resources to the agriculture department, a move that would further erode the DNR’s enforcement abilities. The DBA also met with Walker to discuss changes in manure spreading rules aimed at protecting drinking water, especially in sensitive areas of the state like Kewaunee County where some faucets run brown with manure pollution. The result of their interference resulted in weaker rules. The organization and its staff and board spent $713,461 to keep Walker in charge, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. The result is a statewide drinking water crisis. Not only that, many of its board members own factory farms and some have themselves spilled millions of gallons of liquid manure in violation of established rules.
Walker attempted to undermine the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program
The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is a successful public-private partnership that has protected 675,000 acres since 1990. Its goal is to “preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protect water quality and fisheries, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation.” In his 2015 state budget, Walker proposed a moratorium on new land purchases until 2028. His budget directive would have redirected funds meant to protect Wisconsin’s land into a slush fund for unrelated programs and endangered the state’s most critical lands by removing protections. The Joint Finance Committee restored the program, but further reduced its funding to $33.5 million, down from a high of $86 million.
Walker trashed recycling
Wisconsin has always been a leader in the push for better recycling programs. In 1990, Wisconsin was one of the first states in the country to pass mandatory recycling laws and, as a state, we have a nationally recognized recycling system. In his first budget, Walker attempted to eliminate state recycling requirements and all funding for municipal and county-run recycling programs. Fortunately, after the citizens of Wisconsin fought back, the Joint Finance Committee came to see the error of Walker’s ways. In a rare occurrence, the committee tossed out Walker’s recommendation and restored recycling. Still, support for recycling to local governments was cut from $32 million to $20 million. Today, Wisconsin’s prized recycling laws remain intact – no thanks to Walker.
Walker signed the Death by a Thousand Straws bill into law
Walker signed the Death by a Thousand Straws bill (2017 Act 100), which limits the ability of the DNR to address groundwater over-pumping in critical areas. The bill grants “forever” permits for high capacity wells that are tied to the land. There are entire lakes and streams that are drying up in central Wisconsin due to over-pumping by these high capacity wells. Walker’s law will exacerbate an already severe problem. It will be more difficult for local communities to address serious groundwater problems and will lead to more lakes, rivers, and drinking water wells drying up.
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable, and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin’s public health and natural resources.