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Lawmaker Amends Controversial State Air Regulation Bill

Environmental Groups Remain Doubtful Of Measure

white smoke billows out of a smoke stack
Steve Helber/AP Photo

A Republican state lawmaker says he’s amended a controversial bill that could lead the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to reduce the number of air pollutants it regulates.

The legislation would end state oversight of hundreds of hazardous air chemicals not regulated by the federal government. The DNR could later bring back restrictions on individual pollutants. Bill co-author Sen. Duey Stroebel, of Saukville, told a committee hearing in Greenbush last week that he’s changed the bill after response to feedback.

It would now give the DNR 36 months to evaluate a chemical and potentially reissue a rule.

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“This will ensure a stable regulatory environment during the transition and give the DNR the time it needs to assess existing regulations,” Stroebel said.

Environmental groups remain skeptical.

Andy Olsen with the Environmental Law and Policy Center said it can take four or five years to properly look at a hazardous pollutant.

“Also, the answer to that question depends on how much funding is made available to the DNR to have adequate staffing, and to have the staffing independence from DNR management, in order to do an effective job,” Olson said at the hearing.

Stroebel says a vote on the bill hasn’t been scheduled.

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