We have been providing updates on the issues relating to diversion of water from Lake Michigan for an industrial development in Mt. Pleasant. This update is provided by Louise Petering (LWV WI Vice-president and Carolyn Mahlum-Jenkins (LWV UMRR Board and LWV La Crosse)
Jimmy Parra, lead Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) attorney on the challenge on behalf of petitioners ‘ challenging the diversion has stepped down as of yesterday, Jan. 18th. MEA’s Sarah Geers is replacing Jimmy while Tressie Kamp and Jodi Habush Sinykin remain on the case.
Status of Petition Challenging the WI-DNR Permit
MEA submitted a brief supporting the legal basis for contesting the diversion Dec. 17, 2018. Responses to that brief from DNR and parties supporting the diversion are due at the end of January. Our MEA attorneys then have the opportunity to respond to defendants’ briefs by March 4, 2019.
The Admin. Law Judge (ALJJ, having read the arguments of both sides, will then make a determination given his reading of those arguments in light of WI law and precedent.
At this time it appears that the ALJ may decide on the case by the end of June.
Regardless of his decision, it is likely this case will go to the WI courts system, since one of the parties, either we petitioners or the WI DNR, will be disagree with the ALJ’s decision.
MEA had filed a stay for diversion of water and withdrew it on October 17, 2018 because the City of Racine committed to not divert water before mid-2019. By that time, the ALJ is likely to render a decision.
Outreach to Great Lakes State Leagues
In June 2018 Louise Petering, Milwaukee-LWV began reaching out to State Leagues in the other 7 Great Lakes states to garner support for our petition before the ALJ and the Great Lakes themselves. Outreach efforts continued in July and August. By September it became clear that elections, changes in Exec. Directors and other factors demanded the attention of the state Leagues. Perhaps contributing to non-response from other Leagues may be the fact that all diversions since the Dec. 2008 effective date of the Great Lakes Compact have occurred in Wisconsin. The diversion issue is simply not on the radar of the Leagues in the other 7 Great Lakes states.
During the summer of 2018, LWV Upper Mississippi River Region-Inter League (UMMR) and LWV IN did respond. UMRR’s board approved a statement supporting the petitioners’ initiative; LWV Indiana’s board approved of a letter petitioning their state representative to the Great Lakes Water Council (the governor or governor’s appointee) to file as an aggrieved party to the diversion. The idea of the latter was to move the challenge into the federal court system where a decision favorable to our case is more likely than in the WI court system. As of this writing the LWV IN has not received a response let alone action from the IN member of the Great Lakes Council regarding their request.
As of Feb. 5, 2019, Louise Petering will roll out a pledge with WI members to support the DNR/Racine/Foxconn challenge and Great Lakes Compact. Louise is working with the LWV WI Exec. Dir. early next week to roll out the pledge to LWV Lk MI Region (MI, IL, IN) and the remaining 4 Great Lakes state LWVs (NY, PA, OH and MN) We want to do this in a timed fashion so we can track pledge # with respect to the date of the roll outs.
They will also discuss asking Great Lakes state LWVs to consider pressing their representatives on the Great Lakes Water Council to file as an aggrieved party to the Racine diversion. Since all 4 diversions of Great Lakes water have occurred in WI, the diversion issue has not been an action priority for LWVs in OH, MI, PA & NY. We'd like all GL state LWVs to up the action on the permitted Racine diversion.
On January 17, 2019 The Conference of Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers named its new leadership team. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers will serve as Chair and Ohio Governor Mike DeWine will be Vice Chair.
Submitted by Louise Petering (LWV WI VP and LWV Milwaukee 19/2019 and Carolyn Mahlum-Jenkins (2/11/2019)
|LWV Upper Mississippi River Region||