Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature are fast-tracking a bill to give away Wisconsin groundwater to special interests who donated $ millions to Scott Walker and other Republicans (Wisconsin Democracy Campaign).
The legislation is Senate Bill 291.
The bill is being sold as a compromise bill (with Senate Bill 239) though this is the Republican political strategy, known for months by environmental activists and acknowledged in a September 9 email (obtained here) by State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa) in which Krug says, "The compromise bill that I have been working on will be released this month and will do many good things for the Central Sands area."
SB 291 is the end game of Republican strategy to pose as protectors of groundwater while directing the newly polluter-friendly Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) to expedite permits for high-capacity wells drawing more than 100,000 gallons of groundwater a day.
Krug's spin is reported in a largely uncritical piece by Jason Stein of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel on October 9.
The water is used by industrialized agriculture (Concentrated (Confined) Agricultural Feeding Operations) and other large industrialized agricultural corporations combining the water with cow manure and sending back into the environment millions of gallons of liquid and aerialized cow manure with often tragic health and environmental consequences.
Among the environmental consequences are drying up of rivers, streams and lakes, creation of dead zones in lakes, Ecoli poisoning and destruction of trout streams to list a few.
Krug is the sponsor of SB 291 in the state assembly.
State Rep. Scott Krug Lied
Krug misrepresented the views of his own constituents and clean water advocates when he wrote in another email written earlier this month (obtained here), "This bill was crafted with a great deal of input from local stakeholders. My Citizen Advisory Groundwater Group generated many of the concepts within the bill including private well protections, determination of the most vulnerable areas, monitoring requirements, and (on both sides) the need to determine rates of flow and lake level requirements to use science to maintain the public trust."
This falsehood is typical of Krug whose "Citizen Advisory Groundwater Group" is widely regarded in Adams and Wood counties as a ploy, a series of meetings often skipped by Krug and at which Krug never took notes or minutes (Dimick, Wisconsin Rapidly Daily Tribune) (Mal Contends).
Groundwater group members say they oppose SB 291, and Krug's use of the committee for political posturing.
"Krug was getting a high degree of political mileage by hosting this committee. He referred to it constantly in his public letters," writes Bruce Dimick in a column last year in the Wisconsin Rapids Daily Tribune.
In the October 2015 email, responses to Krug include the two emails below from angry clean water advocates in Wood County:
As you are fully aware, the massive amounts of water used by high capacity wells to our east have all but dried up the water that used to fill and refresh OUR lakes. Let alone the fact that we all know that our ground water supplies are dwindling faster than they are being replenished.
Knowing this I can’t imagine that you co-sponsored bill SB 291. In fact, I assume this is an error and should have said that you not only didn’t co-sponsor the bill but that you oppose it, correct?
I feel that Krug is really politicking (to perhaps uninformed individuals) that this was a combined effort of engaged stakeholders through the Advisory Group and that members of the group shared no concerns about the proposed bill. I think that it may be appropriate to clarify via emails and social media outlets that members of the Advisory Group do not support the bill. Many of our extended email group will remember that we had PWC (Protect Wood County and Its Neighbors (Rome, Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa, Saratoga, Wisconsin Rapids)) representation on the group Krug mentions and may by default think that we support it because Krug says the Advisory Group had input. (emphasis added)
Krug is a political ally of James Wysocki, a CAFO owner and the owner of the site of another massive proposed CAFO in the town of Saratoga in Wood County. Wysocki is also a produce grower whose operations give heavily to Republicans:
Wysocki Produce Farm, of Bancroft, which is a 13,000-acre potato farm with 3,500 head of dairy cattle. Owners and employees contributed about $43,500 to Walker and current legislators between January 2010 and December 2014, including James and Sharon Wysocki, of Custer, $12,627; Kirk and Jacqueline Wille, of Custer, $5,900; and Russell and Diane Wysocki, of Custer, $5,250. (Wisconsin Democracy Campaign)
The Wisconsin Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy is holding a public hearing on SB 291 this morning.
The legislation is expected to pass with unanimous Republican support and unanimous Democratic opposition, and be signed into law by Scott Walker later this year.