Claiming a big victory for conservation, Ann Sayers, the Program Director of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, said in a press release yesterday, that 7 of the 8 candidates endorsed by her organization, won their primaries in the statewide election on Tuesday.
The winners included four candidates for the state assembly (Mark Spreitzer, Rob Brooks, Beth Meyers, JoCasta Zamarripa) as well as Mary Burke (for Governor), John Lehman, (for Lieutenant Governor), and Janet Bewley who is seeking the state senate seat for District 25.
“The 2014 election season is off to a great start for our natural resources,” Ann said.
In addition to working to elect more conservation leaders to the state legislature, WLCV has had a very busy summer – judging from the many email alerts that have been dropping into members’ In-Boxes. And their members have been busy too, responding to the “calls for action” on a number of emerging threats.
Conservation Threats: A Tar Sands Pipeline, Public Land Sell-off, & Greenwashing
The “calls for action” that have come with the emails include:
Asking members to bring pressure on the DNR to conduct a thorough environmental review of a pipeline expansion by Enbridge Energy for a new pipeline that would cross the entire state from its northwest corner to the southeast. The WLCV message said the pipeline would carry 1.2 million barrels of crude and tar sands oil – “the same kind of dangerous, toxic oil that would flow through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.”
And this: In July, Ann Sayers sought to give every member a “heads up” about a new directive from the state legislature that approved selling off 10,000 acres of public lands. “This news is absolutely unprecedented,” Sayers wrote, adding that, “All signs point to more attacks on public lands next legislative session.”
To prepare a response to such attacks, members were asked to send in photos and stories of their favorite public lands, and you can visit (and contribute to) the “Lands, Camera, Action!” online gallery that resulted.
A third “call for action” brought attention to a an interesting – and potentially outrageous issue – a case of “greenwashing” that Kerry Schumann, the executive director of WLCV, said involved a two-year-old, out-of-state company known as Smart Sand, that has been cited for failure to comply with air pollution control standards. In spite of its air pollution failures, Smart Sand has applied to the DNR for its special Green Tier program which essentially certifies it as a leader of good environmental practices.
The DNR provides a wealth of interesting information – and here is a link – about its Green Tier program. WLCV has collected nearly 2,000 comments from members protesting that Smart Sand is an unworthy choice for this prestigious certification. (The period for public commenting on this concluded August 8th.)
Also on the Radar: Groundwater and Local Control Issues
In an email exchange in late July, I asked Ann Sayers if those three items – a new pipeline, selling public lands, and frac sand issues – comprised WLCV top priorities this summer. Pretty much, she agreed, but said to put groundwater and local control issues “on your radar.”
The issue of local control “as it relates to frac sand oversight and everything else – could come back next year,” said Sayers. She was talking about it coming “back” in the legislature. There was a strong effort to pass a law limiting local control during the 2013-14 session. It failed to pass, but it would have prohibited local government from putting any local restrictions at all on sand mining, had it succeeded.
On groundwater, Sayers said the issue of dropping water levels is reaching a crisis point in some areas of Wisconsin. “We can’t afford to do nothing much longer.”
Around the time she wrote those words, the FOX-11 TV station in Green Bay had this lengthy (for tv) feature story, Ground Water Debate in Central Wisconsin. The WLCV has a link to the story on their Facebook page; and this commentary:
“Not much of a debate . . . . water shortages = bad.”