Update: See also Judge: Contaminated wells part of 'massive regulatory failure' (Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
"The DNR operates all of its permit programs to meet all requirements of current laws and rules," writes Michael Bruhn, Director of Policy and External Relations for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, in an November 3 email.
Bruhn writes his comment in an email exchange with Wisconsin clean water activists and Greg Farnham of Juneau, Wisconsin following an administrative law ruling by Judge Jeffrey Boldt in October reading that "massive regulatory failure" at the DNR led to groundwater contamination in northeastern Wisconsin and that the DNR should in effect do its job to prevent continued water contamination by liquid cow manure. (Seely, WisconsinWatch)
Farnham and citizens around the state would like to see more such rulings as well as federal intervention by the EPA, as Wisconsin waters are becoming increasingly toxified by a new form of Big Agriculture and Dairy farming: Concentrated (Confined) Agricultural Feeding Operations or CAFOs.
The DNR has been trying to deflect political and legal blame for the massive regulatory failure, exemplified by DNR's spokesman William Cosh who tried to absolve the DNR even after the ad law opinion was published.
Writes Farnham to the DNR's spokesman William Cosh in a Nov. 2 email: "In my opinion your statements are beyond the pale and further evidence of the mutation of the department [Wisconsin DNR] from a protector of natural resources for the benefit of all citizens of the state to a cabal of the rich, powerful and well-connected agricultural lobbies."
Meanwhile, DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp has taken to talk radio and blogging criticizing the October ruling as "editorializing." (Rowen, The Political Environment)
Writes Farnham to the DNR's Bruhn: "Bill Cosh's attempt to pin the tail of responsibility for regulatory failure on his targeted donkey - the county health department - strikes me as egregiously irresponsible."
Rather it is misguided and dangerous state policy that has resulted in massive regulatory failure -- a failure which is turning our rural landscape into giant septic tanks for livestock manure, polluting our groundwater and adversely affecting the lives of rural residents and the well being of their communities."
The truth is the clean and safe water activists' effect on the November general election—despite widespread popularity of their position—was nil, to the puzzlement of many around Wisconsin.
Writes Don Ystad of Rome, Wisconsin: "(DNR bureaucrats) spin [the Boldt decision] just like the Ag lobbyists. These are supposed to be the people protecting our environment from those who would abuse it. DNR enforcement is down 67 percent in the past four years, 2013 set records for pollution of waterways in our state, and 2014 is on pace to exceed even that."
No source contacted for this piece is considering giving up.