MADISON, Wis. — The Latest on a Republican bill that would let developers fill Wisconsin wetlands without a permit (all times local):
An environmental group says Republicans are letting developers pay the state to fill wetlands.
Sen. Roger Roth and Rep. Jim Steineke have introduced a bill that would eliminate the state permitting system for filling wetlands, allowing developers to fill any wetland under state jurisdiction without oversight.
Developers would still have to follow a state law that requires creating 1.2 acres of wetlands for every acre filled. They could either build the wetland themselves, purchases credits from a mitigation bank or pay into a state fund that provides grants for wetland restoration.
Erin O’Brien is policy programs director for the Wisconsin Wetlands Association. She says the bill essentially allows construction companies to pay to pave over wetlands.
Republicans are pushing a new bill that would allow developers to build on state wetlands without a permit.
The GOP has long bristled at Department of Natural Resources permit requirements for filling state wetlands. A $3 billion incentives package Gov. Scott Walker signed to lure a Foxconn Technology Company plant to southeastern Wisconsin exempts the company from wetland permit requirements.
Sen. Roger Roth and Rep. Jim Steineke’s bill would take that concept a step further by completely eliminating the permit system for state wetlands. Developers would still have to follow a state law that requires creating 1.2 acres of wetlands for every acre filled, however.
Steineke and Roth say the bill would cut red tape for developers.
Officials with the Wisconsin Wetlands Association had no immediate comment on the bill.