Historic Victories

Protected Our Waters with a Watershed Approach

Instead of managing water quality by considering one polluting source at a time, this law allows Wisconsin to consider the cumulative effect on an entire watershed. Signed into law in December 2013, this law marks a significant step forward in Wisconsin’s ability to protect our water quality. It was made possible because of the incredible investment of conservation voters (who sent more than 2,000 letters of support to state legislators!) and the leadership of Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters endorsed candidate, Representative Al Ott (R-03), who helped craft the solution by bringing all water users to the table.

Limited the Phosphorus that Causes Stinky Lakes

The phosphorus found in lawn fertilizers and cleaning products leads to increased pollution and algae in our lakes. In 2009, two bills were signed into law that will help prevent stinky, green lakes. Act 9 prohibits the sale and residential application of fertilizer containing phosphorus to turf, except in certain circumstances. Act 63 brings dishwashing detergent into line with the same phosphorus limits as other household cleaning products.

Enacted the Strong Great Lakes Compact

20% of the earth’s fresh surface water is in the Great Lakes. So it’s no wonder that other thirsty states and countries often eye our Great Lakes water when considering new developments like golf courses and water parks. Thanks to the Strong Great Lakes Compact, signed into law in the spring of 2008, that is no longer an option. Passage of this historic and complicated policy was the result of the support of more than 7,000 citizen comments, 40 local elected officials, and 50 organizations in support of the bill mobilized by Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters.

Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund Reauthorized

More than 475,000 acres of the most ecologically important land in Wisconsin is protected due to the Stewardship Fund, Wisconsin’s innovative land protection program. The Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson Stewardship Fund was established by the Legislature in 1989 to protect recreational lands, wildlife habitat, and other natural areas. To date, it has protected lands and waters in 71 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. The Stewardship Fund is a great source of pride for Wisconsinites, and its loyal supporters include Democrats and Republicans alike. In 2007, the Fund was reauthorized for another decade at a level of $86 million per year to purchase land. The victory came on the heels of Conservation Lobby Day 2007 where 430 citizens from across Wisconsin met in Madison to ask legislators to reauthorize the Fund.

Prevented Out-of-State Waste

Statewide citizen activism led to a big win in the fight against garbage pouring into Wisconsin from neighboring states. In the 2007-2008 state budget, the landfill tipping fee was increased, a move that helped deter the 2 million tons of out-of-state waste dumped in Wisconsin every year, while also providing additional money to run local recycling programs.

Clean Energy Bill Signed into Law

With more than 90% of Wisconsin’s energy coming from dirty coal power plants or dangerous and expensive nuclear plants, it was high time to make a commitment to clean energy. On March 17th, 2006, Governor Doyle signed Senate Bill 459 into law. The bill required Wisconsin to produce 10 percent of energy generated in Wisconsin from clean, renewable sources like wind and solar. In addition, it protects the Focus on Energy Fund, which promotes energy conservation and efficiency and explores renewable energy technologies. During the months leading up to the vote, thousands of voters called or wrote their legislators, submitted letters to their local newspapers, and signed statements of support for clean energy. In addition, 250 citizens representing 100 organizations converged on the Capitol for Conservation Lobby Day to call for passage of a strong clean energy bill.

Check out the victories from the 2015-2016 legislative session here.

Read about the victories from the 2013-2014 legislative session here.