Saturday , 18 November 2017

January 4, 2017 E-News

WISCONSIN SENATE WILL LIKELY REVISIT BILL TO EASE REGULATIONS ON HIGH-CAPACITY WELLS – Wisconsin Senate Republicans will likely revisit a proposal to loosen regulations on high-capacity wells early in the upcoming legislative session, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Tuesday. The bill died last session after the Senate and Assembly passed different versions of it. Fitzgerald said he expects the Legislature to pass the version approved by the Senate, he told reporters after the Legislature’s inauguration ceremonies. The proposal from last session would have allowed high-capacity wells to be transferred, repaired or reconstructed without a new permit, under the conditions of its original permit. Current law requires prior approval from the state Department of Natural Resources to transfer or make changes to a high-capacity well.

AS STATE PLANS FOR MORE MANURE DIGESTERS, QUESTIONS PILE UP – It looks like Wisconsin will be counting on more animal waste digesters to handle the growing amount of cow manure at large dairy farms. The state’s Public Service Commission recently authorized spending up to $20 million in utility ratepayer money on the large waste-to-energy units. But the record on digesters is mixed, and they don’t completely get rid of nutrients that can pollute local drinking water and surface water. About three dozen Wisconsin farms have manure digesters, some built partly with ratepayer assistance through the state Focus On Energy program. And some conservation groups would like more dairy operators to get in the game. But there’s also a question for some about the reliability of digesters, most notably at a three-farm facility built a few years ago near Waunakee.

WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT TO HEAR FRAC SAND PERMIT DISPUTE – A dispute over a frac sand mining permit in Trempealeau County is heading to the state Supreme Court next month and the implications of the case could change how local governments issue permits. The issue started in 2013 when Iowa-based company AllEnergy applied for a conditional use permit from Trempealeau County’s Environment and Land Use Committee to begin mining. But after hearing strong public opposition to the mine proposal, the Land Use Committee voted against issuing AllEnergy’s permit request, which the company claimed was based on anti-mining public opinion. The company and its CEO felt it had been wronged and filed two lawsuits against Trempealeau County. AllEnergy lost both cases in circuit court but appealed its permit case to the state Court of Appeals, which also ruled in favor of the county. Next month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is scheduled to take up the permit dispute and decide whether the county land use committee was right to use public opinion as evidence to deny AllEnergy’s permit application.

DNR WIPES CAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE FROM WEBSITE – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has removed language from its public website describing the scientific consensus that human activity is the main cause of climate change, suggesting instead that the cause is uncertain. Republicans who have controlled state government since 2011 are fighting federal efforts to reduce greenhouse gases that cause climate change, but they have mostly attacked the costs of pollution controls without publicly denying the science until now. A Madison-based conservation activist who is pushing for the air pollution standards said spreading falsehoods about climate change was dangerous because delays in addressing the problem will worsen the climate-related health hazards faced by future generations. “The notion that this is a matter of scientific debate is ridiculous,” said Keith Reopelle, policy director at Clean Wisconsin. “The only people who say that are being paid by the fossil fuel industry.”

OSHKOSH MULLS WHEEL TAX TO OFFSET ROAD COSTS – City leaders are drafting a plan to roll out a wheel tax in Oshkosh, joining other cities that have employed the tactic to supplement transportation projects. Though details of the plan are still taking shape, council members say this new fee would help support Oshkosh’s infrastructure projects, by easing the burden of road work on taxpayers or keeping borrowing in check. Such wheel taxes are strictly limited by state law to paying for transportation projects. In recent years, cities across Wisconsin have turned to a wheel tax to offset state funding cuts. Thirteen of the 16 municipalities in the state that employ this fee passed the measure in the last two years.

AS DONALD TRUMP EYES INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING, STATE LEADERS ASSESS IMPACT FOR WISCONSIN – President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to spend big on America’s infrastructure injects a new variable into Wisconsin’s already thorny debate on how to pay for roads, bridges and transit. Throughout the 2016 campaign, Trump pledged to spend $1 trillion to improve the nation’s roads, bridges, airports and other infrastructure. An infusion of federal infrastructure funds, should it come soon to Wisconsin, would arrive at an opportune time. A debate raged here well before the November election about how to address a mounting funding imbalance in the state’s transportation network. Now that Trump is bound for the White House, some in Wisconsin say state lawmakers should pause that debate until it’s clear what, if anything, will come from Washington, D.C. — even if that means waiting months.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY’S DECEMBER 29 WARNING ON RUSSIAN HACKING – The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has released a Joint Analysis Report (JAR) that details Russian malicious cyber activity, designated as GRIZZLY STEPPE. This activity by Russian civilian and military intelligence services (RIS) is part of an ongoing campaign of cyber-enabled operations directed at the U.S. Government and private sector entities. DHS recommends that network administrators review the Security Publication for more information and implement the recommendations provided.

4th ANNUAL WRWA ICE FISHEREE – WRWA is now accepting sponsors, team registration and door prize donations for the 4th Annual Ice Fisheree to be held on January 26th, 2017. With over 110 attendees last year, we’re anticipating another big turnout for this winter’s fundraising event. Anyone interested in being a sponsor can find the sponsorship and registration forms on our website at  For additional information on this event, contact the WRWA office at 715-344-7778.

QUOTE– “Many years ago I resolved never to bother with New Year’s resolutions, and I’ve stuck with it ever since.” — Dave Beard

“This week’s issue of the Rural Water E-News is sponsored by the following WRWA Corporate Gold Members and Businesses:”

“For information on WRWA Corporate Gold member benefits and other advertising opportunities, contact Renee at”

David Lawrence
WRWA Executive Director
(715) 344-7778

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