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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gov. Walker trying to subvert property rights

From a guest column by Mark Hirsch of Platteville in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald:

In 2009, after years of acrimonious debate regarding the impact of wind-energy facilities on local communities, the Wisconsin Legislature directed the Public Service Commission to review public concerns, scientifically analyze the issues and develop guidelines for uniform wind-siting regulations throughout the state.

This lengthy process culminated in the creation of PSC-128, a set of rules drafted to create a level playing field for developing our wind resources while still protecting the health and safety of our citizens and neighbors.

The Legislature's Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules held a public hearing Feb. 9 about PSC-128. I attended with hopes of sharing my voice on this controversial issue, but due to the large turnout, I did not get a chance to speak. Like many Wisconsin residents, I am strongly opposed to Gov. Walker's efforts to stop the development of wind energy in Wisconsin.

Gov. Walker attempted to subvert this set of rules in January by introducing language in his reform bill to radically alter the siting parameters set by PSC-128. The resulting legislation, SB-9, failed Advertisement

to receive any support during the governor's special session. As a result, the governor is trying to subvert these rules again by putting it before the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. This is not standard operating procedure.

The governor claims that his modification will protect property owners' rights. Under the guise of protecting property owners' rights, what he is really doing is bowing to a special-interest group (the Wisconsin Realtors Association).

An important fact that Gov. Walker is overlooking when he says his rules will protect property owners' rights is that he seems only interested in protecting the rights for those who are neighbors to a wind farm. He needs to argue for the rights of all landowners.

What about the rights of the landowners who support these developments and want the wind farm on their property? These people have paid taxes, farmed their land and, in many cases, sold off small housing parcels to their neighbors. Now the governor wants to empower the neighbors and a minority of landowners with the authority to tell the large property owners what they can do with their land?

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