WMC Behind Republican Bill to Repeal State Air Pollution Rules

November 30, 2017

Business, manufacturing, paper and oil interests are backing a GOP bill that would repeal nearly 300 state regulations on air pollutants that are regulated by federal law.

The measure, Assembly Bill 587, would also require any remaining state air pollution regulations that cover pollutants that are not regulated by federal law to expire 10 years after their effective date. Those air pollution rules would have to be readopted by the state Department of Natural Resources with approval from the legislature and the governor.

Backers of the bill, which was authored by Rep. Jesse Kremer, of Kewaskum, and Sen. Duey Stroebel, of Saukville, include Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business group, which generally opposes environmental regulations. Other supporters include the American Petroleum Institute, the Wisconsin Paper Council, and the Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, which represents large industrial natural gas and electricity users.

The bill is opposed by environmental and health organizations, which claim the measure would increase air pollution and harm public health, and would be particularly hazardous to the elderly, children, and those with respiratory illnesses.

All told, the special interests that support the bill contributed nearly $4.2 million since January 2011 to current Republican lawmakers, who hold comfortable majorities in the Senate and Assembly. Stroebel accepted $14,700 and Kremer received about $7,600 during the period from business, manufacturing, oil, and paper interests.

In addition to direct contributions, WMC, which is among the largest special interest spenders on outside electioneering activities, has doled out an estimated $18.6 million since January 2010 to support GOP and conservative legislative and statewide candidates.