says bill hurts state rivers
By Jim Kneiszel
Green Bay Press Gazette
The Job Creation Act of 2003 would cause irreparable
damage to Wisconsin waterways and eventually cripple the
state’s tourism industry, according to several regional
environmental and conservation groups.
Environmentalists at a press conference Monday in Green
Bay outlined opposition to the 114-page act crafted by
Republican lawmakers to stimulate economic development
and help the state pull out of a financial tailspin.
Buried in the jobs document are provisions to allow landowners
to alter the course of streams and the banks of lakes
and rivers in a way that will threaten fisheries, the
"Every selfish property owner can do what they want.
There’s nothing here for the general public,’’ said Ken
Murray, of the Green Bay Area Great Lakes Sport Fishermen.
"If everyone had a nice, clear shoreline with a nice
little beach, wouldn’t that be wonderful?"
"But what a dead lake you’d have. I think this is
a ‘to hell with the environment’ bill.’’
The act was introduced Nov. 11 and went through several
hours of testimony Nov. 12 in the Legislature’s budget
Legislators hoped to advance the law quickly through
the Senate and Assembly.
The package was co-authored by Assembly Speaker John
Gard, R-Peshtigo, and Senate Majority Leader Mary Panzer,
Language in the bill would overhaul the process of passing
state administrative rules and issuing air permits. It
also would modify current rules on navigable waters to
streamline the permitting process.
Other provisions range from a new, 180-day deadline for
Public Service Commission rulings on deregulation petitions
to a new requirement for commercial credit agreements
to be in writing.
Opponents said the law will deregulate a variety of critical
environmental rules regarding water and air quality and
eliminate public hearing and comment periods associated
with many permit changes required for development.
Rebecca Katers of the Clean Water Action Council, said
the act needs more time for study.
The process has not been as democratic or open as it
should be,’’ Katers said.
This (act) allows builders to interpret the laws for
themselves (as to) whether they are degrading scenic beauty.’’