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Wisconsin needs a change

The raid on the waters of Wisconsin under Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators continues.

A recently proposed bill would allow about one million acres of wetlands regulated by Wisconsin law to be developed without a permit.

Wetlands are valuable because they prevent flooding, purify and regenerate groundwater, and provide wildlife habitat. Endangering flood control and clean water in one community isn't cured by building artificial wetlands somewhere else, as is being proposed. Nesting for waterfowl, food sources for local birds and other wildlife, and source water for trout streams are just wiped out.

The precedent to allow unrestricted development on wetlands was set in the deal Walker struck with Foxconn, the Taiwanese mega-corporation. This deal also eliminated many other crucial environmental protections including the requirement for an Environmental Impact Statement, which allows for public comment and provides the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources needed information to avert serious damage to our natural resources — essential elements to maintaining clean water and a healthy environment.

Contrary to openness in governing and stewardship of our natural resources, the push is on to extend the Foxconn exemptions to all businesses throughout the state. Public ownership of the waters of Wisconsin is being sold out to corporations, big donors to political coffers.

Walker has a continuous record of eliminating environmental protections — weaker laws that regulate mining, high-capacity wells, wetlands, phosphorus pollution, corporate water use, shoreland development; a greatly reduced DNR staff, especially scientists; and an overall move from science-based decisions concerning our natural resources to those determined by party politics.

Even now, proposals are underway to weaken oversight of factory farms and wipe out all state air pollution rules not covered by the EPA.

A chance for change will come with the election for governor in November.

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