Environmental groups are up in arms over a proposed change in Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources policy, which would cut the number of projects that get full reviews before they are approved.
The Natural Resources Board is scheduled to consider authorizing a year-long evaluation of the DNR’s environmental review process at its August 12 meeting. Staff is proposing a permanent rule that adds a number of exemptions to the required reviews. They would no longer be needed for minor air pollution permit renewals, construction plans for sewage facilities, dam repairs, and factory farm facilities. DNR officials argue they can use data from similar previous reviews to act on permits, saving money for both the agency and the businesses involved.
Officials with Midwest Environmental Advocates call the plan the latest in a “growing list of exemptions has resulted in a piecemeal rollback of environmental review.”
The group says those reviews are needed to understand complex environmental issues and the impact they can have on public health, while identifying ways to minimize pollution and the destruction of natural resources.