GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Dairy Business Association secured a settlement in its lawsuit against the state Department of Natural Resources for legal overreach on regulations.
The settlement, reached Wednesday between the association and DNR, will bring immediate relief for dairy farmers facing uncertainty and costly changes, and will provide assurance that the DNR will create future rules only according to the law.
The dairy group prevailed on the central claims of the suit — that the DNR illegally changed rules for how farmers manage rainwater that comes into contact with feed storage and calf hutch areas.
More broadly, the settlement reaffirms the significance of Act 21, a 2011 state law that requires agencies to follow a specific method of rulemaking.
“More than anything, this is a victory for the rule of law,” said Mike North, president of the Dairy Business Association (DBA), a nonprofit that represents hundreds of dairy farmers and other related businesses across Wisconsin. Continue reading “DBA wins settlement in DNR lawsuit”
A Dane County judge ignored an opinion from the Wisconsin Attorney General and state law when vacating eight high capacity well permits issued by the Department of Natural Resources, according to the leader of a non-partisan organization focused on protecting the state’s water resources and advocating for sound water policies.
“This is an ill-advised and seriously flawed decision from a Madison judge who wants to legislate from the bench rather than follow the statutory law and accept the opinion of the Wisconsin Attorney General,” said Dan Ellsworth, president of the Wisconsin Water Alliance. “In reaching its faulty decision, the court ignored a 2016 attorney general opinion that correctly states the DNR’s authority and the proper statutory provisions controlling the issuance of high capacity wells.”
Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn ruled this week the DNR had ample authority to set limits on well applications to protect drinking water supplies and lakes and streams that might be affected by heavy water use.
Ellsworth said the ruling also goes against Act 310, which was enacted by the Wisconsin Legislature in 2003 and contains specific requirements for issuing high capacity wells, and Act 21, which provides that explicit statutory laws are controlling and the public trust doctrine is not implicated when issuing permits for high capacity wells.
“These laws were enacted by the Legislature to give certainty to the regulatory permitting process without sacrificing water protections. Unfortunately, the judge failed to read the clear statutory law that regulates high capacity wells and instead invoked a flawed and incorrect reading of the public trust doctrine,” he said. “We expect the case will be appealed and are confident that it will be overturned.”
Ellsworth said WWA will continue to work to protect the state’s water resources and advocate for sound water policies that benefit current and future generations of Wisconsin families, cities, businesses, farmers and others.
By MaryBeth Matzek
A Dairy Business Association lawsuit seeks to stop the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources from overreaching its legal authority on key regulations.
The dairy group filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the DNR centering on how the agency implements new regulations without going through an approval process required by state law.
The lawsuit deals specifically with one example of this pattern of unlawful behavior: changes to how farmers manage rainwater that comes into contact with feed storage or calf hutch areas. Those changes, in which the DNR abruptly abandoned its own earlier directives, are causing costly fixes and still more uncertainty for farmers, said DBA President Mike North.
Continue reading “DBA suing DNR, claims authority overrreach”