Fight for state’s air, water quality

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“If you aren’t at the table, you’ll be on the menu.” Never has this old saying been truer than when it comes to our current Wisconsin Legislature. And unfortunately, it’s your air, land and water that are on the menu.

But Wisconsin citizens are fighting back by pulling up a seat to their decision-makers’ tables. Literally. On Feb. 11, Conservation Lobby Day 2014, hundreds of Wisconsin citizens will meet one-on-one with their state legislators to voice their support for protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources and public health. Specifically, they will discuss:

Groundwater supply.We already face a number of groundwater problems in Wisconsin. Farmers in areas where frac sand mining is occurring are unable to water their fields. Trout streams in central Wisconsin are drying up, and high-capacity wells are drawing down nearby lakes. A new bill (SB 302) would allow frac sand mining companies, factory farms and other large water users to pull water from the same source without consideration of how much water each is using. Allowing for such a short-sighted approach means that our water supplies will be quickly drawn down. 

Local control. Citizens rely on their local authorities to be the first line of defense in protecting their air and water. SB 349 strips local governments’ abilities to do that, paving the way for polluters to play by their own rules. The result will be more frac sand mining, more manure spraying and more air and water contamination. 

Frac sand mining. In the last five years, Wisconsin frac sand mining facilities have grown from fewer than a handful to more than 100. With the boom of frac sand mines has come a host of public health and natural resource problems and concerns. At the moment, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is woefully under-resourced for being able to keep up with growing monitoring and law enforcement needs. 

On Conservation Lobby Day, we will tackle these issues head on — lobbying all 132 legislators to do the right thing. Since the first Conservation Lobby Day in 2005, we’ve proven time and again that when citizens come together to make their conservation values known, legislators listen and conservation victories soon follow.

Past lobby days have been followed by critical policy victories, like passage of the Strong Great Lakes Compact, reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund and an increase in the tipping fees to deter out-of-state waste.

Conservation Lobby Day is successful because it demonstrates to Wisconsin’s legislators that Wisconsin’s conservation community is: 

United: Hundreds of conservation voters of all political stripes will stand together in support of sensible natural resource protections.

Diverse. From hunters and fishers to birdwatchers and campers, from parents and students to retirees and teachers, from paddlers and bicyclists to truck drivers and snowshoers, we’ll all be there to show that conservation has many different faces.

Effective. As a citizen lobbyist, you hold more credibility about the need for clean air and water than any special interest lobbyist. We’ll make sure you’re prepared — and legislators will notice.

Pull a seat up to the table on Feb. 11. Join us for Conservation Lobby Day 2014 to fight for our air, land and water.

Anne Sayers is program director for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to electing conservation leaders, holding decision makers accountable and championing conservation policies that protect Wisconsin’s natural resources and public health. Learn more about the organization and Conservation Lobby Day at www.conservationvoters.org.