Gov. Walker's budget bill--bad for the environment

In the standoff over the budget bill, most people have focused on the part that strips public employees of their rights to collective bargaining.  But the 144-page bill contains many other bad ideas.  Here are two that would degrade our environment:

Power plant privatization

"The same budget bill calls for a rapid no-bid “firesale” of all state-owned power plants. One progressive blogger called the proposal “a highlight reel of all of the tomahawk dunks of neo-Gilded Age corporatism: privatization, no-bid contracts, deregulation, and naked cronyism” and suggested that the provision will open the way for large, politically connected corporations to buy up the state’s power plants on the cheap. While it’s unclear whether corporations would be interested in buying the plants, a similar proposal was vetoed six years ago by Gov. Jim Doyle (D), who called the plan fiscally and environmentally irresponsible. Many of Wisconsin’s power plants are in violation of federal clean air regulations and desperately need to be upgraded and cleaned up — not dumped into the private sector."

 Destroying wetlands

"In January, Walker’s proposed regulatory reform bill exempted a parcel of wetland owned by a Republican donor from water quality standards. But the exemption was more than just an embarrassing giveaway to a GOP ally: environmental groups believe the bill’s special provision would actually affect the entire county, eliminating public hearings on proposed wetland development, short-circuiting approval of development projects, and disrupting the region’s water system."

Read the whole article by Kevin Donohoe here.

More bad ideas in the bill

"The budget proposed by Governor Walker yesterday decimates a number of key conservation programs that help to drive Wisconsin’s economy."
  • "Eliminates state recycling requirements and all funding for municipality and county-run recycling programs;
  • Eliminates the grant programs that develop new renewable energy projects, encourage energy efficiency for businesses and green products for manufacturers;
  • Slashes general revenue funding to the Department of Natural Resources by 56% and 15.8% overall;
  • Eliminates the program to preserve farmland;
  • Allows for greater polluted runoff, including phosphorous, into waterways;
  • Slashes support for local transit by 10% while dramatically increasing funding for road-building;
  • Creates new restrictions for how the Stewardship Fund can be used that will undercut efforts to protect recreational and wildlife habitat from development."
From Anne Sayers, Program Director for the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

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