Wisconsin’s Green Fire Releases Opportunities Now Report “Imbalance of Power – How Wisconsin is Failing Citizens in Conserving Natural Resources and Protecting our Environment”

WI Green Fire, September 27, 2022


September 27, 2022

Wisconsin’s Green Fire is releasing the newest in our series of Opportunities Now policy assessments titled, Imbalance of Power – How Wisconsin is Failing Citizens in Conserving Natural Resources and Protecting our Environment.

The paper addresses the collective effects of state legislative actions, court rulings, and political practices that have undermined democratic processes and profoundly changed the way state government in Wisconsin operates.

Today, instead of a robust balancing of public interests among stakeholders, a small number of groups representing industry, real-estate, and some agricultural interests now exercise a high level of influence over environmental programs, with direct implications for the health and welfare of Wisconsin citizens.

The decade-long failure to take effective actions to address these issues is affecting health and quality of life and creating a growing financial burden to Wisconsin residents throughout the state.  For example, contamination of drinking water from PFAS has now been documented in at least 90 Wisconsin communities and this number is growing.  And more than 42,000 private wells exceed safe levels as a result of nitrate contamination of groundwater in rural Wisconsin, resulting in tens of thousands of people who do not have reliable access to safe drinking water in their homes.

The report includes these critical findings:

  • The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board remains effectively captured by a majority of members appointed during a previous administration because one member refuses to step down 14 months after his term has ended.
  • The Joint Committee on Review of Administration Rules in the Wisconsin Legislature holds an extraordinarily high level of oversight and control over the fate of environmental and conservation programs.
  • Although they were once an important tool for managing a broad range of conservation and environmental programs, developing Administrative Rules in Wisconsin is no longer a functional process for addressing important conservation or environmental issues.
  • A growing number of Wisconsin citizens are losing faith in the ability of state government to create solutions to our greatest environmental challenges.

No single action or policy will reverse a decade-long period of policy failures for conservation in Wisconsin. The paper provides a detailed set of recommendations for community engagement and policy reforms.

Ultimately, keeping government honest and effective requires the ongoing engagement of well-informed Wisconsinites demanding transparency, accountability, and effective actions that benefit all.

Read the full report here.

We will be hosting a webinar on October 19th, 10:30-12:00PM CT  featuring speakers and guests sharing insights on the report’s findings. Stay tuned for registration information coming soon.

Read Wisconsin Public Radio’s September 29th article on this report: Power shift in the last decade has prevented policies to protect Wisconsin’s environment

Read Wisconsin Examiner’s October 10th article on this report: Report finds a decade of environmental neglect in Wisconsin

Read WXPR’s October 20th article on this report: “No longer functional”: Wisconsin’s Green Fire calls for changes to the state’s environmental rule-making process”

For more information contact:

WGF Executive Director Fred Clark  fclark@wigreenfire.org

WGF Policy Liaison Paul Heinen, pheinen@wigreenfire.org

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