DNR Deputy Secretary Gives Insight on Recent Legislation and DNR Hot TopicsMarch 21, 2012
The Wisconsin State Bar has uploaded a video interview it did with Matt Moroney, Deputy Secretary of the DNR. Moroney briefly explains legislative changes and other updates to shoreland zoning, wetland reforms, and pier regulation. In addition, Moroney discusses the “hot topic” issues the department will tackle in the foreseeable future.
Senate Approves Regulatory Reform BillMarch 9, 2012
The Wisconsin State Senate gave final approval to Senate Bill 326, a major regulatory reform measure that streamlines the DNR permitting process in Chapter 30 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which concerns navigable waters, harbors, and navigation. The bill would require the DNR follow specific procedures and timelines for issuing permits, and allow the DNR to issue more simplified general permits for certain activities. The bill also makes changes to the state’s pier regulations, and other DNR processes. The Assembly is scheduled to take up its companion bill, AB 421, on Tuesday, March 13th.
PSC’s 2010 Windmill Siting Rules Will Likely Go into EffectMarch 8, 2012
On March 7th, the Senate referred back to committee a bill that would have directed the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to craft new windmill siting standards. Although a bill could still come to the floor, if it does not pass both houses by the last day of the legislative session, March 15th, the PSC’s 2010 windmill siting rules will go into effect.
Gov. Walker Signs Two Laws Repealing RegulationsMarch 7, 2012
Governor Walker has signed into law two bills introduced by the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules repealing existing air regulations.
Renewable or Not? How States Count HydropowerJanuary 23, 2012
Midwest Energy News recently published an interesting article discussing how different states treat hydroelectric power when it comes to renewable electricity standards. As the article explains, although hydropower is a renewable energy, it does not always count toward a state’s renewable electricity standard.
Assembly to Vote on Mining BillJanuary 19, 2012
The Assembly is expected to debate and pass Assembly Bill 426 on January 26th. Supporters of the bill argue that the bill is needed due to the uncertainty of current permitting laws and rules implemented by the Department of Natural Resources, which they say discourage investment in mining. Moreover, proponents argue that the new law will provide jobs without harming the environment. Environmental groups oppose the legislation arguing that it will harm the environment.
Wetlands Bill Would Provide Certainty in Permitting ProcessJanuary 17, 2012
One of several bills targeted at reducing uncertainty and increasing flexibility in Wisconsin’s regulatory system is Assembly Bill 463/Senate Bill 368, known as “the wetlands bill.” The bill, sponsored by Senator Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) and Representative Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), makes significant changes to Wisconsin’s wetlands permitting process.
Wisconsin wetlands are currently subject to a myriad of different regulations. For example, some wetlands are subject to both state and federal regulations, while others are regulated only by the state. For non-federal wetlands, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) can issue an individual or general certification, and must take extra precautions if the wetland is or is near to an area of special natural resource interest (ASNRI). While the jurisdictional overlap is unavoidable, the multitude of permitting standards for non-federal wetlands results in an overly complex area of law.
The wetlands bill would require the DNR to follow specific procedures and timelines for issuing individual wetlands permits for the first time ever. The DNR will be able to focus on larger and more complex projects by increasing the use of general permits for smaller, less complex projects. The DNR would also be permitted to consider economic impacts and mitigation when making a permitting determination. Below is a discussion of the changes to Wisconsin’s wetland regulations contained in AB 463/SB368:
Assembly Holds First Mining Bill HearingDecember 15, 2011
The Assembly Jobs, Economy and Small Business Committee met yesterday for the first hearing on the proposed mining bill, AB 426.
This bill is a response to Gogebic Taconite's proposal to build Wisconsin’s largest ever iron mine. Earlier this year, the company said it needed more certainty in the state's regulatory process before it proceeds with the $1.5 billion mine in portions of Iron and Ashland counties. Without the changes, testified Gogebic President Bill Williams, it is doubtful outside investors would lend money for the 1,000-foot-deep mine.
House Votes to Amend Rule-Making ProcessDecember 12, 2011
This month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved several changes to the administrative rule-making process. Though the Senate is unlikely to take of any of these bills, the attempt to exercise more Congressional power over the Executive branch is an interesting exercise in the concept of Separation of Powers.
Mining Bill IntroducedDecember 9, 2011
The long anticipated mining bill was released by Assembly Republicans on Thursday, Dec. 8. The 183-page bill would create new statutes to govern ferrous (iron) mining, which is currently regulated in the same manner as non-ferrous (non-iron minerals like gold or copper) mining.
This bill comes in response to Gogebic Taconite's proposal to build Wisconsin’s largest ever iron mine. Proponents of the bill point to the job creation potential of the mine, while opponents worry environmental standards will be sacrificed to gain those jobs. Proponents counter that the text of the bill is the best indication so far that it is possible to retain Wisconsin’s strong environmental standards while still taking advantage of the state’s rich natural resources.
Committee on Mining Jobs to Hold Informational Hearing on Mining 11/15/2011November 10, 2011
Governor Releases Executive Order on RulemakingNovember 3, 2011
Governor Walker issued Executive Order 50, Relating to Guidelines for the Promulgation of Administrative Rules, on November 2nd. The Governor’s executive order is an important step toward implementation and understanding of the new procedures adopted in 2011 Wisconsin Act 21, which passed during the January special session.
Public Hearing Authorized for DNR Proposal Adopting New NAAQS Standards for NO2 and SO2October 27, 2011
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board met yesterday, October 26, for its October 2011 board meeting. Among other issues before the board was a request for authorization for public hearing on proposed rules affecting NR 404 and 484 pertaining to adopting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2).
Governor Walker Calls Second Special Session on JobsSeptember 28, 2011
For the second time this year Governor Scott Walker has called the legislature into special session to address jobs. The "Back to Work Wisconsin" special session is expected to begin on Thursday, September 19, and run through November.
Walker’s announcement included a list of 26 pieces of legislation for the session. Several of the bills focus on streamlining Wisconsin’s regulatory system.