Beware, New Front Group Formed on Water Policy!

October 10, 2017

A new group that says it supports policies to protect the state’s waters appears to be a front group with ties to powerful business, agriculture and manufacturing interests.

The Wisconsin Water Alliance, which describes itself as a diverse group of state businesses and landowners, announced its formation on Tuesday. The alliance says water is a “vital natural resource” that must be protected for “current and future generations of families, cities, businesses, and others.”

But here’s a quick look at the group’s officers:

Dan Ellsworth, president, also serves as chief executive officer of Animart LLC. Ellsworth’s background also includes sales and marketing of agricultural pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and products.

Lucas Vebber, vice president, also serves as general counsel and director of environmental and energy policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business organization. WMC generally opposes any air, water, and land use or protections that negatively affect the business community. Vebber was also a former staffer for GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Deric DuQuaine, secretary, also serves as general counsel of MilkSource LLC, which operates about a half-dozen large factory farms throughout Wisconsin. MilkSource’s owners have contributed more than $130,000 since January 2011 to GOP Gov. Scott Walker.

Jeff Landin, treasurer, who also serves as president of the Wisconsin Paper Council. The papermaking industry is a major water user and polluter, according to environmental advocates.