Dear Editor: Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a fast-tracked bill that hands unprecedented autonomy to a Taiwanese corporation, Foxconn, over the waters of Wisconsin.
Walker's bill creates blanket exemptions to basic environmental protections. It removes the requirements for an Environmental Impact Statement, which enables us to know how our natural resources would be affected, and for a state-approved plan showing that proposed water usage is sustainable. It eliminates permits that control damage to wetlands, streams, and lake beds through dredging, dumping, building, and changing the course of streams — for an overseas corporation with a dubious environmental record.
Republican legislators assure us that the federal government will provide the environmental protections needed, but the EPA, the Clean Water Act, and federal environmental regulations are under attack — repealing, defunding, and ignoring environmental concerns are the mantra under President Trump. This leaves strong state environmental protections essential to maintaining water and air quality.
So, will state laws continue to be written to favor giant corporations like Foxconn or Gogebic Taconite mining? This penalizes small businesses and entrepreneurs who are required to follow the rules. Or will environmental protections be wiped out across the board and mark the end of clean water and air in Wisconsin? Neither is acceptable.
Jobs and a healthy environment can co-exist. States with strong environmental laws have strong economies, but it takes will and foresight to maintain both. Walker and the Legislature have a responsibility to forge a bill that supports both jobs and a healthy environment.
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