Legislative scorecard: Mixed bag for conservation in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Gazette

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters on July 1 released its Conservation Scorecard 2013-14. About 50 percent of the pro-conservation bills supported by group were signed into law.

Of the biggest defensive measures, conservation interests were successful 75 percent of the time, according to a news release from the league.

“More than anything, this year’s Conservation Scorecard tells the story of the power of individuals to successfully protect their air, land, and water. It’s their efforts that prevented the terrible groundwater bill and both frac sand mining bills from ever seeing the light of day,” said Anne Sayers, program director for Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

The organization said highlights from the session included bills to improve water quality and prevent toxins like lead and prescription drugs from contaminating our drinking water, all of which passed with strong bipartisan support. The biggest attack on natural resources was passage of the open-pit mining bill, which exempted iron mines from having to meet most environmental laws. The measure passed despite huge citizen opposition.

A look at the scorecard:

• Average senate score: 65 percent.

• Average assembly score: 74 percent.

• Number of “senate conservation champions,” who scored 100 percent: 10.

• Number of “assembly conservation champions,” who scored 100 percent: 35.

• Number of senators with 75 percent and higher: 15.

• Number of representatives with 75 percent and higher: 41.

• Number of anti-conservation senators, who received a zero: 0.

• Number of anti-conservation representatives, who received a zero: 0.

• Number of pro-conservation bills: 5.

• Number of pro-conservation laws: 4.

Sayers, in a news release, said, “We were happy to see glimmers of Wisconsin’s nonpartisan conservation legacy this session. And we applaud the thousands of citizens whose engagement helped to make that happen.”

She continued, “However, the reality is that we just don’t see Wisconsin decision makers stepping up to the plate to pro-actively tackle the most important issues, like groundwater management, protections against frac sand mining, and renewable energy development. Wisconsin voters are eager for true conservation leadership.”

For details on rankings, go to www.conservationvoters.org.