Wisconsin AG Issues Letter Withdrawing 2016 Opinion On High-Cap Well Permitting

Attorney General Josh Kaul issued a letter on May 1st informing Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Secretary Preston Cole that he is withdrawing a 2016 Attorney General Opinion about high-capacity well permitting.

Kaul’s letter was in response to an inquiry from Secretary Cole about the ongoing validity of the 2016 Attorney General Opinion after certain court orders questioned aspects of the opinion.

In 2016 Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel countered a 2011 Wisconsin Supreme Court case review that ruled the state Constitution gave the DNR “the authority and general duty to consider whether a proposed high capacity well may harm waters of the state.”  In his opinion, Schimel said a law passed in 2011 by the Wisconsin Legislature limited agencies’ regulatory authority to what’s explicitly outlined in state law. He concluded the Supreme Court didn’t address the recently enacted law in its review.

MWFPA applauded Schimel’s opinion noting that it was “very important in that it further clarifies Wisconsin law regarding a state agency’s ability to act beyond the scope of the authority given to it by the legislature.”  MWFPA has long appreciated the need for regulatory certainty for farmers who rely on high-capacity wells to irrigate their crops and hydrate livestock.  Our producers rely on high capacity wells for irrigation of land in order to produce a steady supply of raw product for fresh and processed consumption.

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