ELPC is advocating for Wisconsin leaders to maintain new phosphorus rules that some seek to rescind. These new rules protect the health of Wisconsin’s waters, improving their economic value and ecological health.
Phosphorus fertilizes crops and also fertilizes growth of algae and other weeds, reducing the oxygen necessary for plant and animal growth. Algae blooms kill fish and other aquatic plant and animal species. Phosphorus pollution often results in blue-green algae, a neurotoxin that is harmful to humans and pets, further decreasing the recreational value of lakes and rivers.
Phosphorus pollution can have devastating impacts on our waters and economy both. Wisconsin currently ranks second in the nation in fishing licenses, with the fishing industry creating almost $2.75 billion and 300,000 jobs annually. Phosphorus kills fish by decreasing oxygen and results in ugly, foul- smelling lakes. As phosphorus pollution increases, waterfront property value decreases. A study has shown that for every additional meter of water clarity, property value increases $45.64 per frontage foot. By supporting these new rules, you are helping protect our economy.
Read more about phosphorus and about Wisconsin’s long history of preserving clean water.
ELPC has taken the lead in fighting to protect one of Wisconsin’s most precious natural resources, the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. The CNNF has been identified as one of the “10 most endangered national forests” in the nation.
The Environmental Law & Policy Center is working through federal courts to protect this treasured resource. You can hear ELPC Executive Director Howard Learner talk about our efforts to slow the rate of logging in this interview with Milwaukee Public Radio.
The Governor’s Task Force on the Environment has been another of our priorities in the state.
The 2007 Farm Bill also will benefit Wisconsin’s burgeoning renewable energy sector. The state recently increased its commitment to clean energy with a a new Renewable Portfolio Standard requiring that 10% of electricity come from renewable energy by 2015. ELPC and Wisconsin allies are now developing plans to use the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP, formerly Section 9006) to realize this goal.
Wisconsin has already benefited greatly from REAP, receiving the third highest amount of grants for any state. Wisconsin farms and rural businesses have received $12 million in grants for 65 projects from 2003-2007. With Wisconsin’s great diary industry, manure digesters have figured prominently, with 34 digester projects funded.
Wisconsin is very close to passing strong new state standards to reduce phosphorus pollution into Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers and streams. The new standards, which have passed all of the required legislative reviews and are now awaiting the governor’s certification and publishing, would limit the amount of phosphorus pollution from the largest sources: farms, factories and sewage treatment plants. The new phosphorus pollution reduction standards will help improve the quality of Wisconsin’s waterways, nearly half of which are listed as “impaired” by the federal government due to phosphorus pollution. Too much phosphorus can cause our waters to turn into a green, gunky soup of algae and bacteria, including toxic algae that can sicken swimmers and pets and harm drinking water sources.