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Fast-tracking environmental disaster

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a fast-tracked bill that hands unprecedented autonomy to a Taiwanese corporation, Foxconn, over the waters of Wisconsin.

Walker's bill creates blanket exemptions to basic environmental protections. It removes the requirements for an Environmental Impact Statement, which enables us to know how our natural resources would be affected — and the requirement for a state-approved plan showing that proposed water usage is sustainable. It eliminates permits that control damage to wetlands, streams and lake beds through dredging, dumping, building and changing the course of streams — for an overseas corporation with a dubious environmental record.

Republican legislators assure us the federal government will provide the environmental protections needed; but the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Water Act and federal environmental regulations are under attack — repealing, defunding and ignoring environmental concerns are the rule under Trump. This leaves state environmental protections essential to maintaining water and air quality.

So, will state laws continue to be written to favor giant corporations like Foxconn? This penalizes small businesses and entrepreneurs who are required to follow the rules. Or will environmental protections be wiped out across the board and mark the end of clean water and air in Wisconsin? Neither is acceptable.

Jobs and a healthy environment can coexist. States with strong environmental laws have strong economies, but it takes will and foresight to maintain both. Walker and the legislature have a responsibility to forge a bill that supports jobs and a healthy environment.

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