Statewide conservation agenda
The Dunn County News
Published August 31, 2005
The budget crisis has raised havoc to a host of important
programs here in Wisconsin and has threatened numerous
important conservation issues. Environmental issues that,
when lost, are gone forever. There seems to be a light
at the end of the tunnel according to Governor Doyle's
announcement of statewide conservation agenda, "Conserve
Wisconsin," an initiative to protect Wisconsin's
environment, and encourage energy conservation and innovation.
His Conserve Wisconsin agenda, is a broad package of legislative
proposals and executive orders that safe guard Wisconsin's
environmental legacy. The initiative will focus on protecting
Wisconsin's waters, conserving its lands and ensuring
a sustainable energy future.
According to Scott Hassett, DNR Secretary, the governor
recognizes how much the people of Wisconsin value a clean,
healthy environment, an attractive outdoors, recreational
activities and business that depend on these assets. The
Conserve Wisconsin package will help Wisconsin invest
in its environment and quality of life while continuing
to grow our economy. The governor will use executive orders
to make immediate progress on the package and work to
secure legislation where needed.
"Conserve Wisconsin" highlights
Long overdue legislation to regulate ballast water in
ocean-going ships to prevent further introduction of destructive,
invasive species to the great lakes, the largest fresh
water reservoir in the world. Invasive species which sooner
or later make their way into inland rivers and lakes.
Introduction of legislation designating the first rivers
to State Wild River protection since 1965. And legislation
to stop the spread of invasive species transported from
lake to lake.
Development of statewide water conservation strategy.
The governor has directed the DNR and Public Service Commission
to develop and implement actions to help conserve water,
initially in the Great Lakes Basin and ultimately statewide.
As chair of the Great Lakes Council, Gov. Doyle will use
his office to urge other states and provinces to increase
their water conservation efforts as well.
Legislation to make funds available more quickly to prevent
polluted run-off. Farmers that have experienced discharges
of manure or other polluted run-off are eligible for cost
sharing grants to help correct the problem. It can currently
take up to 24 months to process the grants to farmers
-- all the while the discharges may continue. The Governor's
proposed change would allow DNR to provide grants on a
continual basis, so that farmers who have experienced
a discharge can access the cost-sharing grant and fix
the run-off problem faster.
Restoration of Wisconsin's Public Intervenor is way over
due. The Conserve Wisconsin agenda includes introducing
legislation to restore Wisconsin's Public Intervenor.
Before being eliminated in 1995, for 30 years the Public
Intervenor gave ordinary citizens a place to call for
technical and legal advice when they faced complicated
Sustainable energy future
Legislation will be introduced to implement the full
package of the governor's recommendations on energy and
renewables to reduce state dependence on costly imported
energy. This includes a requirement that Wisconsin get
10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.
With an electric bill of more than $55 million, state
government will lead the way by purchasing 10 percent
of its power from renewable sources by 2006 and 20 by
An executive order will require that new state buildings
and where possible, existing state buildings meet "green
building" standards. Green buildings use renewable
energy sources and recycled materials, as well as have
water efficiency measures in place. Following green building
standards will cut the cost of operating and maintaining
state buildings while conserve energy, water and materials.
The state owns 6,300 buildings and total energy costs
of $127 million in 2004. Following green building standards
could provide an energy cost savings of up to 30 percent.
Protecting our lands
Other "Conserve Wisconsin" agenda items include:
A forestry legacy program aimed at protecting large blocks
of sustainable managed working forests to safeguard their
environmental, economic and recreational values to the
state, a grant program to encourage the use of sound forestry
practices and open more lands for recreation, and the
governor will petition the Secretary of the U.S. Department
of Agriculture to ensure that areas in the Chequamegon-Nicolet
National Forest (CNNF) remain roadless.