Fall 2017 Update on Water Policy in Wisconsin

Oct 26, 2017 | Citizen Advocacy, Water Policy | 1 comment

The state legislature is working to pass as much as they can in the next few weeks before taking a break until 2018.

Here is a brief update on the bills and issues that need your voice and action:

Industrial Acid Mining Bills

In case you missed it, click the image above to watch our own Raj Shukla on Upfront with Mike Gousha, where he discusses the Industrial Acid Mining Bills and the risks of sulfide mining.

The Assembly Committee on Labor held a hearing on the Industrial Acid Mining Bill, AB 499, on October 13th, 2017. At the hearing, citizens as well as tribal and local governments from across the state told legislators they oppose this bill and want the current “Prove it First” laws to remain on the books to protect our water, communities and the Wisconsin way of life for future generations.

Local communities continue to raise concerns about this legislation. Marathon County testified at the Assembly Hearing to oppose the bill (read their statement here) and just this week the Door County Board passed a resolution against these bills.

How you can help today:

  • The Assembly Committee on Labor has not scheduled a vote on this bill yet.
    Please continue to contact the members of the committee to ask them to vote NO on AB 499.
  • The full Senate is expected to vote on their version of this bill, SB 395, in early November. Please continue to contact your Senator to let them know this bill puts Wisconsin’s water and economy at risk. We should not take the gamble of short-term sulfide mining over the long-term investment in agriculture and tourism. The pollution from sulfide mines is not worth the risk.
    Enter your address here to find your Senator.

Proposed Back Forty Sulfide Mine

The proposed Back Forty Mine in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has received approval of three of the four required permits from Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MI DEQ). This month, Aquila Resources submitted its final permit application, the wetlands permit, to MI DEQ. At this time, we are waiting to find out if MI DEQ has determined that the application is complete. If the permit is considered complete, then the public comment and hearing process will begin. We will send out information about the hearing process once it begins.

In the meantime, the “Stop the Mines! Speaking Tour” is traveling to campuses around the state. A total of 23 organizations (including university clubs, nonprofits and indigenous nations) have joined forces to present a speaking tour that explores the effects of sulfide mining, with particular attention to the impact on indigenous nations.

River Alliance of Wisconsin is honored to partner with the Wisconsin Youth Network to connect with college students across the state to discuss the impacts of sulfide mining in Wisconsin and Michigan. These students will eventually carry Wisconsin’s environmental legacy forward and they deserve to live in a Wisconsin that builds on its economy that relies on clean, fresh water rather than a state that is burdened with the cost of cleaning up acid mine drainage.

How you can help today:


Wetlands provide flood control, habitat and other important functions. Unfortunately, they are often taken for granted. There are two wetlands bills circulating the legislature right now. One bill (SB 320/AB388) has merit and the other bill (AB 547) goes too far. The bad legislation, AB 547, removes DNR’s permit authority for the protection of more than one million acres of wetlands.

How you can help today:

When it comes to Wisconsin’s waters and quality of life—as well as the clean water economy our state depends on—Wisconsin citizens must weigh in. Thank you for your time to take action today!