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Committee Asks Schimel for Opinion on High-Capacity Wells
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 02/03/2016

A group of GOP lawmakers are asking Wisconsin's attorney general for an opinion on the state's authority to regulate high-capacity wells. On Tuesday, the Assembly Organization Committee voted 5-3 to ask Brad Schimel to pen his thoughts on a 2011 State Supreme Court decision that many feel ignored a law that restricts the ability of state agencies to regulate businesses.

The issue began in 2010 when a state appeals court ruled that the DNR has broad authority to consider how high-capacity wells effect groundwater. The led to the legislature passing a law that prohibits agencies from imposing permit regulations. But Supreme Court justices later ruled that the DNR continues to have authority over wells, despite the new statutes.

"There is confusion surrounding the authority of the DNR to place conditions on permits for high-capacity wells," the committee said in its request. "These permit conditions have created a substantial backlog in permit requests, bringing the issuance of new permits to a standstill."

Among other things, the committee is also hoping to find out whether Schimel feels the DNR can require monitoring wells to see how high-capacity well affect local acquires.

A formal opinion of the attorney general doesn't necessarily create a binding precedent, but it can have an influence.

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