We cannot be free without a healthy environment, without clean air, without clean water. These are essential attributes that we all take for granted and that are slowly slipping away. Our Wisconsin State Constitution says that we have the right to the "pursuit of happiness" - but what is that worth without clean water or clean air? Pennsylvanians have it easier. They amended THEIR Constitution to explicitly state that they had the right to clean air and clean water.
The federal government has passed the Clean Air Act and the Clean Water Act and has several other laws and Executive Orders on the books, purportedly guaranteeing our rights to live in a clean and healthy environment. As it happens, the Congressional Research Service just published a report on the federal activity in this area. We have provided this reference on the following page. CLICK HERE FOR ACCESS.
In Wisconsin, the presence of easily broken sandstone composed of very hard, very spherical grains of pure silica sand has made Wisconsin one of the foremost suppliers of "frac-sand," the substance used as a "proppant" included in the mix pumped down a well to hold open (or "prop") the cracks in the rock created when the pressure of the hydraulic fluids forced into the well becomes too great for the rock to bear. This process is called "hydraulic fracturing" or "hydro-fracking" or simply "fracking."
Our friends in Ohio, at FracTracker.org have done a MARVELOUS job of organizing geographic data, videos and photographic evidence about the damage done by both ends of the fracking process (from the extraction of the sand to the injection of the waste water following the drilling process). We strongly recommend their website!
Pennsylvanians won a major victory in their state Supreme Court in December 2013, regarding the primacy of their Constitutional rights over state law Act 13, the law permitting the fracking of the Marcellus shale formation throughout much of their state. PA Act 13 bears a great resemblance to the SB349 and AB816 introduced in the Wisconsin legislature because it also outlawed local zoning control over the natural gas drilling operations of the fracking operators. See pa_supreme_court_commentary on this website for more information.
In December, 2014, New York State banned hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking).
In the 2013-2015 Wisconsin legislative session, there were unsuccessful attempts to: allow mining companies to avoid future mining-related ordinances that are adopted before the hypothetical mine even begins pursuing a permit (SB 632 and AB 816); strip away local communities’ ability to set more protective water and air quality standards to protect public health and safety (SB 349); and allow large water users to pull from the same groundwater source without considering how much water each entity is using, (its passage would have meant “death by a thousand straws” for Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers)(SB 302/AB 679).
In addition, our legislature passed POSITIVE measures to: support Trout Unlimited work to protect cold water resources through sale of a special license plate (Their work in stream and wetland restoration also helps to protect Wisconsin’s drinking water for all citizens (AB 173); provided funding for disposal of unused or expired medications at local pharmacies or other collection points to keep them out of the water flow through the sewage treatment process and into our waterways (AB 448); added ability to manage water quality on a watershed basis, rather than one polluter at a time through the sewage treatment process and into our waterways (SB 190).
Private success is not possible without public support!
Life cannot exist without air and water.