Citizens Descend on State Capitol to
Oppose Senator Tiffany’s Takeover of Local Control
Madison- Citizens from across Wisconsin are speaking out in opposition to SB 349, the Kneecapping Local Communities Bill, at today’s Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Forestry, Mining, and Revenue hearing. SB 349 strips the power and autonomy of local governments to make it easier for factory farms, frac sand mining companies, and others to pollute. While the bill was released just days ago, it didn’t take citizens from every corner of Wisconsin long to see that this is a sweeping, extreme piece of legislation that threatens public health statewide.
“Once again, Senator Tiffany has introduced a complicated bill that dramatically undermines local communities and put it on the fast track. Only this time, he didn’t choose one part of the state or one issue to attack. This time, he’s attacking all communities and harming air and water quality statewide. It’s an unprecedented, across-the-board attack on local control and it is absolutely not going to fly with Wisconsin voters,” said Anne Sayers, Program Director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.
- SB 349 prevents all local authorities from passing protections for their own air and water quality and water quantity.
Example: The town of Rosendale passed an ordinance prohibiting aerial spraying of manure due to health concerns of exposing citizens to the viral and bacterial pathogens found in untreated manure. Adams County also passed a three year moratorium on this practice to provide time to study health impacts of the practice. SB 349 would repeal these measures and prevent all Wisconsin communities from taking similar precautions in the future.
- SB 349 prevents all local authorities from monitoring their own air and water quality and water quantity.
Example: Kewaunee County is considering requiring ongoing testing and monitoring of groundwater because they have found that half of all wells in the Township of Lincoln and one-quarter of the wells in the county have unsafe levels of nitrates and bacteria, such as coliform and E Coli, in drinking water. Infants under six months who drink water containing elevated levels of nitrates can become seriously ill and, if untreated, may die. SB 349 would prevent Kewaunee County and all other Wisconsin communities from passing similar protections.
- SB 349 further erodes local governments’ ability to regulate frac sand mining, only giving them a say when it comes time to clean up the mess and even then, holding them to the lowest possible standard.
Example: On August 30, 2013, Trempealeau County instituted a moratorium prohibiting the permitting of additional frac sand facilities, citing the need to study potential health effects stemming from compromised air quality. SB 349 would repeal this measure in Trempealeau County and prevent all other Wisconsin communities from taking similar steps to protect citizens.
This is a bill in search of a problem. While bill proponents claim it will ease frac sand mining, there is little evidence that local governments are in any way hindering the development of this industry in Wisconsin. In fact, the industry has seen unfettered growth with more than one hundred new mines sited in less than five years. In reality, there are too few tools and protections at both the local and state-level to deal with this rapidly emerging industry and the threats it poses.
“SB 349 is an attack on local autonomy and a statewide threat to public health. Wisconsin citizens aren’t just watching this one closely. They are in the offices of their legislators demanding that this radical piece of legislation be shelved,” concluded Sayers.
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to
electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable and encouraging lawmakers to
champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin’s public health and natural resources.
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters
133 S. Butler Street #320 · Madison, WI 53703 · (608) 661-0845 · Fax (608) 661-0835
1642 Western Avenue · Green Bay, WI 54303 · (920) 429-9008
633 West Wisconsin Avenue · Milwaukee, WI 53202 · (414) 921-0084
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