Gorski Column: Our Water Protections Have Been Abandoned
By David Gorski
It’s a fact of life in Wisconsin today.
We the citizens of Wisconsin cannot count on our state government to protect us from polluters who poison our water and air.
Whether it’s industrial farming or sulfide mining, Republican officials in control of state government have forsaken families by abandoning Wisconsin’s legacy of environmental conservation.
Just look at the concentrated animal feeding operations in Kewaunee County where, because of excessive manure spreading, many residents cannot drink or bathe in the water from their private wells.
Residents in Kewaunee have pleaded with our state government to act on their behalf, but our state government refuses to take the actions necessary to help the Wisconsin people.
As a result of the state’s refusal, home owners have to buy bottled water and pay for reverse osmosis water-purifying systems. In some cases, even with these expensive purifying systems, the water is still not safe to drink. Can you imagine not being able to bathe with the water coming out of your shower? How angry would you be?
This is happening right now, and it is the predictable consequence of not allowing the good people of the DNR do their jobs and the state government refusing to protect our communities.
You would not think this could happen in Wisconsin.
This is just one example of privatizing corporate profits and then asking the tax payers to pay the costs of living with and cleaning up the polluted environment. In other words, it’s letting companies reap the profits for the few, while at the same time shifting the burden of pollution’s extraordinary costs onto tax payers across this great state.
Now our state government wants us to believe we have nothing to worry about from the potential polluting by sulfide mining. We are told that we are protected by state and federal laws. Unfortunately, the truth is that more and more of the laws that protect us are being ignored, marginalized and/or eliminated.
For the past 20 years we have been protected from sulfide mining—an industry with one of the worst records of leaving toxins in the soil and water—by a tough “Prove It First” standard. That law, which Republican legislators just weakened, required companies wanting to mine in Wisconsin to first successfully operate a mine without leaving a toxic mess. Interestingly, the “Prove It First” standard was enacted in the late 1990s with broad bipartisan support, a reminder of how today’s Republican Party has lurched to the far right and lost touch with the public interest in a clean environment.
Here in central Wisconsin, please let State Rep. Scott Krug and State Sen. Patrick Testin know that you are holding them responsible for protecting human health, as well as our air and water.
Our future depends on it.
David Gorski, a retired school counselor, is a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for Wisconsin’s 72nd state assembly seat. Gorski lives in Wisconsin Rapids.