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home : opinions : opinions July 24, 2017

1/7/2017 7:28:00 AM
Natural resources policy needs bold change
Tom Tiffany and Adam Jarchow

Have you ever met someone who wants to destroy air and water? We haven't.

Nevertheless, despite air and water quality getting better in Wisconsin, this is the attack consistently leveled against us. We even managed to make a special interest group's "dishonor roll" and have been labeled environmental lightning rods. Why? Because we have the audacity to take on the environmental left. Perhaps it's easier to engage in personal attacks than actually debate the issue at hand.

We both relish a good fight, but that's actually not why we engage in crafting environmental policy. Deep down, the reason we get involved in these fights is because they are incredibly important to the people we represent in rural and northern Wisconsin. While we have an abundance of natural resources, job opportunities can be very limited. Smart policies can have a dramatic impact on economic growth and job opportunities in northern Wisconsin. Why? It's a matter of scale.

Imagine if a new business opened in a suburban Milwaukee community and it provided 100 middle class jobs (loaded wage rates of $30 per hour). This would be great, but it would barely be a drop in the bucket in a vast urban metropolis. On the other hand, where we live, many communities have less than 1,000 people. Imagine if a paper mill or frac sand facility employing 100 people at that same wage rate opened in that community. It'd be huge!

Just one good business can be the lifeblood of an entire community. It's not just the direct jobs, but it's the indirect jobs - truckers, electricians, plumbers, contractors, restaurant, and gas station owners, bankers, car dealers, realtors. Again, it's a matter of scale.

The reality is that our rural communities live or die with decisions suburban legislators make in Madison. An ill-suited, overly-restrictive rule can literally ruin a community. That's why we are so stridently opposed to Madison and Washington rules and regulations that kill job opportunities in farming, manufacturing, forestry, and tourism.

If you live downstate or in a more urban or suburban community, you may think these issues don't impact you. They do. If people in northern Wisconsin can't find family-sustaining jobs, they will be more dependent on government programs (which your tax dollars will fund) and there will also be a deficiency in our tax base, meaning you will also fund our schools. So, yes, the northern Wisconsin economy matters to you, even if you don't live there.

This session, we will continue to press for legislation that runs afoul of the dogmatic beliefs held by many so-called environmentalists. We intend to further streamline some rules and regulations and repeal those that don't make sense. It's a matter of life and death for our communities. When the attacks come from the self-proclaimed environmentalists, we hope our friends and neighbors across the rest of the state will stand with us, because it matters to you too.

Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2017
Article comment by: Joy Skully

"choose to have Madison make the decision for us". Madison does not make decisions, the WI Government does. Please separate the two.

Posted: Saturday, January 21, 2017
Article comment by: Tim Behselich

And when your wells are contaminated by an iron mine (don't think that issue is dead), or your air is filled with sand particles, or your lakes and rivers are polluted, remember who you voted and re-voted into office.

Posted: Sunday, January 15, 2017
Article comment by: Robert Wojnowski

Excellent point Merlin. First it's local control, then it's the state, then local, then state...whatever serves Tiffany's pathetic argument and who's paying him and his minions. The Wisconsin River was a sewer in the 1960's according to many long time Rhinelander residents. The paper company did not clean it up out of the kindness of it's heart. (That's a human reference because it's a person right?...Think Citizen Untied) Without the Clean Air and Water Act it would still be a sewer.

Posted: Saturday, January 14, 2017
Article comment by: John McConnell

Gentlemen, I grew up in Wisconsin Rapids in the 1950s-1960s and I can certainly answer your opening question in the affirmative. The Wisconsin River was less than two blocks from our home and it was a sewer. The paper mills and the municipalities used it as a place to dispose of all manner of waste. When the clean water bills started to come before congress, the paper mills insisted that the Wisconsin River be labeled an "industrial river", there to serve industry and produce power. They dumped everything from toxic chemicals to pulp into the river and the insisted that making them stop would put them out of business. In reality, what did in mills was the shift away from paper at a time when mills had greatly increased their capacity. They were able in the end to meet environmental standards, but they could not get people to buy magazines which created much of the demand for coated paper that Wis. was famous for.

Posted: Wednesday, January 11, 2017
Article comment by: Merlin Van Buren

Mr Tiffany,

You, like this paper, like to pick and choose who should make decisions: local entities or Madison/Washington, based on what special interest groups tell you. For lake regulations local government wants more restrictive regulations, but then you choose to have Madison make the decision for us. Now you like to state that local government should make the decision. Which is it? I guess it really depends on what your special interest groups tell you. You do what your handlers tell you to do, and you listen to them, not the people of the Northwoods.

Merlin Van Buren

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