Wednesday , 25 April 2018

October 11, 2017 E-News

REP. KIND CALLS FOR INCREASED FUNDING FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMS THAT SUPPORT WISCONSIN COMMUNITIES– Today, U.S. Rep. Ron Kind sent a letter to House leadership calling on them to increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development programs. President Trump’s budget proposal seeks to impose severe cuts to Rural Development programs. “Many of our rural communities in western and central Wisconsin face tight budgets and struggle to attract private investment, which is why funding for Rural Development programs, which create jobs and build critical infrastructure, is important,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “The place to make budget cuts is not to Rural Development programs that our communities depend on. We need to work together to level the playing field for our residents, farmers, and small businesses in rural Wisconsin.”

MANURE SPILL KILLS FISH IN STREAM IN VERNON COUNTY THAT IS TRIBUTARY OF THE KICKAPOO RIVER– Manure from a large dairy farm in western Wisconsin polluted a trout stream and tributary to the Kickapoo River this week and has killed more than 1,300 fish, state officials said Friday.  The fish kill included brown and brook trout in the headwaters of Otter Creek near La Farge in Vernon County, according to the Department of Natural Resources. The accident is still under investigation, but as of Friday officials said that it did not appear as if contamination had spread to the Kickapoo, a popular river for canoeists and other recreational users in southwestern Wisconsin. Manure spilled from Wild Rose Dairy earlier this week and the source of the pollution has been controlled, the agency said. DNR records show the farm has a permit to house about 1,800 animal units. One animal unit is equivalent to a 1,000-pound cow. It was not immediately known how much manure spilled into Otter Creek. “Clearly, it was big enough to cause the kill,” said Andrew Savagian, a department spokesman.

ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS FILE MOTION IN DAIRY BUSINESS ASSOCIATION LAWSUIT– On Oct. 2 a half-dozen environmental groups filed a motion to intervene in the July 31 Dairy Business Association (DBA) lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.“If this lawsuit is successful, it would be a very big deal,” said Scott Laeser, water quality specialist at Clean Wisconsin. “It should be concerning to anyone who cares about clean water in Wisconsin. Period. That is fundamentally why we decided to intervene.” Joining Clean Wisconsin in the motion are the Clean Water Action Council, Friends of the Central Sands, Midwest Environmental Advocates, Milwaukee Riverkeeper and Wisconsin Wildlife Federation. “The bottom line is that the suit includes a suggestion to undermine and blow up the permitting program,” Laeser said of the DBA’s lawsuit. “That is what we are concerned about. It seems that there would be a clear, more straightforward way to resolve these other issues that pertain to guidance the DNR has issued besides this potential legal threat to undermine the entire permitting process.”

COMMITTEE VOTES TO LIFT WISCONSIN’S SULFIDE MINING MORATORIUM– A legislative committee has approved a Republican bill that would end Wisconsin’s sulfide mining moratorium. The Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry voted 3-2 to approve the bill Wednesday. All three Republicans on the committee voted for the bill. The two Democrats voted against it. Committee approval sets up a full Senate vote. Wisconsin lawmakers enacted legislation in 1998 requiring companies seeking to mine sulfide ores such as copper, zinc and gold to prove similar Canadian or U.S. mines have operated for 10 years and been closed for 10 years without causing pollution. The state Department of Natural Resources has never made a final determination that any applications fit those standards. The bill’s chief author, Sen. Tom Tiffany, says sulfide mining could jump-start northern Wisconsin’s economy.

TENSION MOUNTS OVER BACK FORTY MINE AS IT NEARS FINAL APPROVAL– Toronto-based Aquila Resources plans to mine gold, zinc and other metals in Michigan upstream from the Menominee River. So far, the mining company has been able to secure three of four permits needed to move forward. As the project nears final approval, tension is mounting among residents along the Michigan-Wisconsin border. On a recent Friday evening, around 15 protesters gathered on street corners outside the Ogden Club in Menominee just across the border from Marinette. Cars honked in support as protesters held up signs reading “No Mine Save Our Water” and “Be the Voice of Our River.” Aquila Resources spokeswoman Chantae Lessard said Aquila’s Back Forty mine would create around 240 jobs in the first year and about $20 million annually in local, state and federal tax revenues. The company just resubmitted its application for a wetlands permit to Michigan regulators this week. Lessard said they hope a final permit will be issued to them in January.

FOXCONN’S IMPACT ON WISCONSIN WILL BE CLOSELY WATCHED BY ENVIRONMENTALISTS– Foxconn Technology Group identified the site for a massive electronics plant in Racine County on Wednesday but provided few other details, prompting environmental groups to continue to raise questions about the impact a 20 million-square-foot facility might pose on natural resources. The groups said they will monitor how the Taiwan-based company’s sprawling plant will conform with the regulation of Great Lakes water; the amount of pollution the plant will discharge; and the impact on wetlands at a site in the Village of Mount Pleasant.  Tim Sheehy, president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce who has been involved in negotiations with Foxconn, predicted the company will exceed environmental requirements and try to go further. “This is their first footprint in the United States and they want to do everything to be good stewards,” Sheehy said.

INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING BILL SLIDING DOWN AGENDA– President Trump’s change of heart on a core component of his $1 trillion infrastructure package has left the entire effort in doubt. Trump is now questioning behind closed doors whether public-private partnerships are an effective tool, raising fresh questions about how the massive rebuilding project would be paid for.  And the Trump administration, which initially promised to release a legislative package by late summer, likely won’t be focusing on the issue until after tax-reform legislation progresses. “We’ve seen their outline, but that’s continuing to be adjusted,” Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, told reporters Tuesday. “We’ve been talking with the administration for the last several months, developing, talking, giving our advice on what we think is doable, what’s not doable,” he added. Once billed as a 100-day priority for the administration, Trump’s promise to rebuild U.S. roads, bridges, airports and other public works moved to the back burner as Congress wrestled with health-care legislation.

RESPONDING TO A WATER CONTAMINATION EVENT WEBINAR SERIESThe Water Security Division of the Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water will conduct a webinar series including three one-hour events entitled “Responding to a Water Contamination Event.” The webinar series will inform drinking water and wastewater utilities of free tools and resources that can help prepare for, respond to, and recover from water contamination. Please join us for one or more of the webinars in the series and earn CEUs. For more information, or to register go to

QUOTE– “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”  ― Mahatma Gandhi

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