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Conservation Group Opposes Two Bills on Air Quality

Clean-air standards in Wisconsin would be severely compromised by a pair of bills circulating in the state legislature, according to a conservation group. (Clean Wisconsin)
Clean-air standards in Wisconsin would be severely compromised by a pair of bills circulating in the state legislature, according to a conservation group. (Clean Wisconsin)
September 27, 2017

MADISON, Wis. - A pair of bills dealing with air quality are circulating in the state Legislature, and a conservation group opposes both.

According to the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, the first of the two, LRB 4288/1, strikes down all state standards for determining what is and what isn't an air pollutant. The group has said the second bill, LRB 1181/1, would prohibit the Department of Natural Resources from including data from the air-monitoring site in Kohler-Andrae State Park near Sheboygan.

Jennifer Giegerich, the group's legislative director, said both bills will do great harm.

"These bills will make it harder for Wisconsin citizens to know that their air is being protected and that their public health is safe," she said. "These bills basically make it easier for the state to ignore air-pollution problems that we know about, and then make it harder to deal with future air-pollution problems."

The Republican authors of the bills have said both are needed to uncomplicate what they call the tangle of regulations regarding air quality in the state, and that passage of the bills would not present any danger to the public health. The League disagreed, saying the bills, if passed, would do irreparable harm.

The second of the two bills, which would prohibit use of air-quality data from the air sensor at Kohler-Andrae State Park, is particularly dangerous, according to Giegerich. She said Sheboygan County already has marginal air quality.

"The American Lung Association, in their latest report, gave them an F for their air quality," she said. "That means children whose lungs are forming are going to have damage long into their lifetime. People who have chronic respiratory and pulmonary problems are going to be at risk."

By hiding the evidence of air pollution, the league said, the bill would attempt to artificially show compliance with federal Clean Air Act standards and in so doing, allow even more pollution in the area.

The text of LRB 4288/1 is online here and the text of LRB 1181/1 is here.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI