Today, on behalf of 16 Petitioners from across the state of Wisconsin, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed a Petition for Corrective Action with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to request action by both federal and state agencies to bring Wisconsin back into compliance with the Clean Water Act. Wisconsin citizens petitioning the EPA have long-standing water problems from poor implementation and enforcement of the landmark federal law.
“Today, Petitioners are exercising a right granted by federal law to ask the EPA to require our state Department of Natural Resources to issue water pollution permits in compliance with the Clean Water Act,” said Staff Attorney Tressie Kamp. “If our DNR and state legislators do not take timely action, the Petition asks that the EPA take back the DNR’s power to issue permits to industries that discharge pollutants into Wisconsin’s waters.”
In 2011, the EPA sent a letter to the DNR outlining 75 points where the state government was out of compliance with the federal Clean Water Act through a lack of clear or effective implementation, enforcement or proper legal authority for the state. Since then, changes in the agency’s rulemaking process, staffing and authority within the agency’s water pollution permitting program, and circumvention of court-ordered pollution controls, in addition to cuts in the agency’s budget and science staff, have all culminated in this urgent, statewide call for action. The Petition requests that the EPA works with the DNR to establish enforceable timelines for compliance.
“The Petition for Corrective Action is important and justified because it’s been over four years—and in some instances, much longer—since the EPA put our DNR on notice that Wisconsin does not issue water pollution permits in full compliance with the federal laws that protect clean water all over our country,” said Kamp.
“The Governor and state legislature have starved the DNR’s power and robbed the agency’s experienced staff of professional autonomy to make informed decisions,” said Executive Director Kimberlee Wright. “Today, this drastically narrowed authority of DNR staff to make critical decisions about protecting our water requires urgent action by the EPA. Without effective government, we are compounding what our children and grandchildren will face in a world increasingly short of drinking water.”
For more information on the petition: midwestadvocates.org/pca