Local environmentalists are declaring victory after a pair of Wisconsin Supreme Court decisions on Thursday, including one involving Kewaunee County residents.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is allowed to consider the environmental impact on groundwater when issuing permits of high capacity wells and the number of animals on a farm. Chief Justice Annette Ziegler and fellow Justices Jill Karofsky, Rebecca Dallet, and Ann Walsh Bradley sided in favor of the environmental groups while Justices Patience Roggensack and Rebecca Bradley dissented. Justice Brian Hagedorn did not participate according to court documents.
Kinnard Farms was at the center of one of its suits with five Kewaunee County residents objecting to its water pollution permit approval in 2012. The residents argued that the DNR should have been able to prevent the Casco operation from increasing its herd to more than 6,000 animals and require different groundwater monitoring measures. Opponents to the measure say the DNR does not have the authority to offer stricter guidelines under Act 21. Madison-based Midwest Environmental Advocates has represented the five Kewaunee County residents since the beginning. Executive Director Tony Wilkin Gibart says it should have never taken eight years to get to this point, but calls the decision a true David vs. Goliath moment. He adds it shows that Wisconsin residents have the right to demand clean water.
Wilkin Gibart says while the decision would allow the DNR to put an animal cap on large farm operations, he is not sure if that would mean that Kinnard Farms or others would have to remove animals if it was determined they were above the cap. Representatives from the Dairy Business Association and Kinnard Farms could not be reached as of Thursday morning.
Photo courtesy of Midwest Environmental Advocates
Court decision on Kinnard Farms case
Court decision on high capacity wells case