Badger Common’Tater July 2016 Issue
DNR Reacts Positively To Attorney General Opinion on High-Capacity Wells
Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel says DNR was overstepping its bounds on high-capacity wells
By Jim Massey, Editor, The Country Today, and Joe Kertzman, Managing Editor, Badger Common’Tater
Nearly a month to the day after Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel issued a legal opinion, on May 10, regarding high-capacity wells, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced plans to follow his lead and start reviewing permit requests for high-capacity wells.
In his 23-page opinion, Schimel said the DNR lacks broad authority to impose conditions on high-capacity wells based on their cumulative impact on state waters. He said the DNR cannot impose any condition not explicitly spelled out in state statute or rule.
The attorney general opinion was in response to a February request from Wisconsin’s Assembly Committee on Organization to clarify the DNR’s power with regard to high-capacity wells.
Two key conclusions from the Attorney General’s opinion are that the DNR may impose conditions or requirements on high capacity well approvals only if the agency has explicit permission or an explicit requirement to do so in statute or rule; and the DNR does not have explicit authority to consider cumulative impacts or to impose monitoring requirements on high-capacity well approvals.