Wednesday , 25 April 2018

October 4, 2017 E-News

WISCONSIN REPUBLICANS LAUNCH NEW ROLLBACK OF AIR, WATER PROTECTIONS– Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature want to eliminate state protections for wetlands and air quality that aren’t mandated by the federal government. About a million acres of wetlands could be left vulnerable to destruction and 300 hazardous air pollutants could become unregulated under a pair of proposals circulating among lawmakers. The Wisconsin Wetlands Association said Monday that the danger of flooding and polluted ground water would increase with a legislative proposal to remove state authority to force developers to avoid or minimize damage to important wetlands. Backers of the bill emphasized that it would preserve the requirement under current law that developers who pave over wetlands pay a fee that is used to create or restore wetlands elsewhere.

COMMITTEE TO VOTE ON LIFTING MINING MORATORIUM– A legislative committee is set to approve a bill that would lift Wisconsin’s moratorium on sulfide mining. The Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry is slated to meet Wednesday to vote on the bill. The committee’s chairman, Sen. Tom Tiffany, is the bill’s chief author. Wisconsin lawmakers passed a bill in 1998 requiring sulfide mining applicants to prove a North American sulfide mine has operated for 10 years and been closed for 10 years without polluting before they can get a permit in the state. No companies have ever come forward with examples of mines that fit those two standards. Tiffany’s bill would eliminate the requirement. He says mining could help northern Wisconsin’s economy. Committee approval would clear the way for a full Senate vote.

GRANTS AVAILABLE TO HELP MUNICIPALITIES MINIMIZE FLOOD DAMAGE– Cities, villages, towns, tribal governments and metropolitan sewerage districts are eligible to apply for grants from the Department of Natural Resources to help minimize flooding and flood-related damages. The recently adopted 2017-2019 Biennial Budget increased available funding for Municipal Flood Control grants to $1.85 million. Combined with funds from the prior grant cycle that were not used by grantees, a total of $2.13 million is available in this grant cycle.  Eligible projects include property acquisition and removal of structures – which due to zoning restrictions cannot be rebuilt – property acquisition and removal of structures in the 100-year floodplain. Additional eligible projects include acquisition of vacant land for flood water control/storage or flood water flowage easement, flood control detention pond and flood studies and flood mapping projects. For application materials and more information search the DNR website for “grants” and click on the button for “find grants” and link for Municipal Flood Control Grant Program for more information.

FAMILIES SAY FRESH FARM AIR FOULED BY OPEN TANKS OF INDUSTRIAL WASTE WATER– A Wisconsin company that stores up to 2.8 million gallons of industrial waste water in open tanks is under fire from rural neighbors who say the smell sometimes gets bad enough to make them sick. “And when the wind is going the other way so you can’t smell it, it’s like ‘Hallelujah,’ we’re going to have a good day,” said Pam Scheider, who lives near the tanks. “But that just means somebody else isn’t having a good day, because it will be blowing on them.” Scheider and others say they have been rebuffed repeatedly when they have asked state and local government officials to investigate how such powerful odors could come from tanks that are supposed to hold only “wash water” from food-processing plants.

AG SCHIMEL ANNOUNCES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION UNIT ENFORCEMENT RESULTS– The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) Environmental Protection Unit has released its environmental enforcement results for the third quarter of 2017. The unit obtained judgments in 12 state enforcement cases and in one federal Superfund case that was prosecuted jointly with the U.S. Department of Justice. The state judgments totaled $249,009 in forfeitures and related surcharges, plus an additional $705,500 in projects designed to further protect public health and the environment. The joint federal case secured an additional $200,000,000 in remediation commitments for the ongoing PCB removal and restoration work in the Fox River. “DOJ continues our important work enforcing the state’s environmental laws and helping to protect and restore our state’s natural resources,” said Attorney General Brad Schimel. “I am also pleased that we are continuing to make progress working with our federal partners to address our most contaminated sites through aggressive implementation of the nation’s Superfund law.”

LA CROSSE OFFICIALS HOPE FOR SUSTAINABLE SOLUTIONS TO FLOOD RISK– La Crosse officials say updating the National Flood Insurance Program isn’t a long-term solution to the cost of future floods. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would open the flood insurance market to more private businesses. Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind, a co-sponsor of the bill, said the change would lower insurance rates by allowing more competition. “For many in flood hazard areas, like La Crosse, the cost of flood insurance is a necessary but significant financial burden,” Kind said in a statement. “It is time we give options to the Wisconsinites and Americans who are required to purchase flood insurance.” There are about 1,200 homes in La Crosse’s special flood hazard area, often called the 100-year floodplain. Many of these residents have flood insurance through NFIP because it’s required in order to get a loan through a federally insured lender.

LESS OIL ON THE RAILS, BUT FEARS PERSIST AS OLD TANK CARS REMAIN– The deluge of oil trains rolling through La Crosse three years ago has slowed to a trickle as the bulk of North Dakota’s oil production now moves through pipelines, helping the rail industry comply with new federal safety regulations. That has assuaged some concerns, though rail safety and environmental advocates remain vigilant over ongoing threats from other hazardous materials on the rails. A new report from the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics shows rail shippers are on track to meet a 2018 deadline to stop hauling crude oil in old, unprotected tank cars, but tens of thousands of those DOT-111 cars remain in service hauling ethanol and other flammable liquids.

QUOTE– “You need eagle’s wings to get over things that make no sense in this world.”- Tom Petty

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