Excessive Polluters Are Large Campaign Contributors

March 28, 2018

Water Pollution

Executives with about a dozen papermakers, utilities, and other companies accused of dumping excessive pollution into Wisconsin waterways in 2016 and 2017 are also generous campaign contributors in most cases.

The companies were named in a recent Environment America Research & Policy Center report on excessive pollution by industrial facilities across the country. The report said that 29 times between January 2016 and September 2017 Wisconsin companies exceeded the amount of pollution the state allows them to release. The excessive materials that were dumped in Wisconsin waters included mercury, arsenic, copper, and chlorine.

The report, which reviewed federal Clean Water Act compliance data for its findings, claimed the companies in Wisconsin and across the country rarely face state or federal penalties for exceeding pollution limits.

Environmental groups and Democrats have accused Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s Department of Natural Resources, which issues and enforces pollution permits, of being too lenient on businesses when enforcing state environmental laws.

Employees and political action committees (PACs) with 13 of the 14 companies with operations in Wisconsin contributed about $926,800 to Wisconsin legislative and statewide candidates between January 2010 and June 2017. Walker received more than one-third of those contributions, for about $342,150.

The companies identified in the report with the most campaign contributions between January 2010 and June 2017 are:

Wisconsin Electric Power. The company is part of the WEC Energy Group, whose executives and PAC contributed about $534,400 to legislative and statewide candidates, including about $185,800 to Walker.

Wisconsin Public Service Corp., whose executives and PAC contributed about $256,400 to legislative and statewide candidates, including about $110,400 to Walker.

Green Bay Packaging, whose executives contributed about $36,340 to legislative and statewide candidates, including about $16,950 to Walker.

Dairyland Power Cooperative, whose executives contributed $30,570 to legislative and statewide candidates, including $1,450 to Walker.

Nextera Energy Point Beach, whose executives and PAC contributed about $29,300 to legislative and statewide candidates, including about $6,460 to Walker.