Since 2015, Wisconsin became a place where environmental laws were not broken so much any longer. Financial penalties dropped off at the lowest level in the last ten years or more.
The statistics provided by a conservation organization showed that companies and individuals paid forfeitures of $306,834 last year for violating state law.
Compared with 2014, when they paid $1.4 million, it was registered a 78% percent drop off. According to the data, such a little amount was last paid in 2006.
The Department of Natural Resources has become more friendly to the private sector, thanks to its administrator Gov. Scott Walker, who promised in 2011 that he would change the situation, and so he did.
According to the data, between 2006 and 2010 were collected forfeitures of $15.2 million total. During Walker’s tenure from 2011 to 2015, the number dropped to $6.4 million which is more than half.
In February 2015, enforcement activity has declined in several categories. The report showed the number of notices of violation, the number of referrals to the Department of Justice and the number of cases the agency accepted all fell in 2015 compared to the average between 2010 and 2014.
According to Walker, declining enforcement of earlier this year was clearly a good sign because it proved the efficiency of the DNR in preventing problems and working upfront with the public. He believes that the perfect target is to have no citations because citations mean that something previously went wrong.
No financial penalties were registered in 2015 concerning confined animal feeding operations, represented by CAFOs (large-scale farms) that went under fire from environmentalists. Plus, there were no fines in categories covering public water supplies and hazardous waste.
Furthermore, wastewater management forfeitures, involving permits to factories and municipalities that treat water before releasing it into public waterways, dropped off from a 10-year average of $455,407 to $12,057 last year.
According to the executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, George Meyer, this total of financial penalties is too dramatic. He believes that either the number of prosecutions reduced or there were fewer on-site inspections by the DNR. Plus, a drop in the number of prosecutable cases might have dropped as well.