The bill gives the Department of Natural Resources three years to repeal any air pollution regulations that go beyond federal regulations.
A Republican author of the bill Sen. Duey Stroebel notes the bill would allow the DNR to reinstate regulations it deems necessary.
“It really just seems to be a common sense way to make sure we are on the cutting-edge of these things that can be emitted into our environment,” Stroebel says.
Legislative attorneys say the state regulates well over 300 pollutants that the federal government doesn’t.
An earlier version of the bill would have given the DNR until the end of 2018 to rid the state of those regulations, but an amendment on the version of the bill passed today extended that period to three years.
Democratic Representative Jimmy Anderson says he worries stripping away regulations could open the door for companies to pollute the air.
“It’s seems to me that it’s very possible that by removing these tools from the DNR, it makes it very easy for businesses in the future to be emitting these pollutants that could make women, children and families sick,” Anderson says. “It makes me very concerned.”
But one of the bill’s authors, Representative Jesse Kremer says the bill doesn’t take power away from the DNR, it just requires them to revisit regulations that might no longer be necessary.
Environmentalists, meanwhile say this scale of an attempt to roll back air pollution regulation is likely to cause serious harm not only to the environment, but to human health.
Sarah Barry with Clean Wisconsin spoke about those concerns at a public hearing on the bill in the fall.
“With all the information we have now about air pollutant exposure, we should not defy common sense and go back to the drawing board by repealing these regulations,” Barry says.
Plus, the DNR estimates repealing those regulations could cost about $50,000 and the state would lose around $25, 000 in permit fees for pollution sources along with other payments.
The bill’s passage in committee today paves the way for the full Senate to vote on the bill.