Clean Wisconsin High Capacity Wells Litigation

In November 2016, Clean Wisconsin filed nine petitions for judicial review challenging Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) decisions to approve nine high-capacity well permit applications. The permits were needed for farms for irrigation purposes. Clean Wisconsin asked that the court invalidate each of the nine permits and find that DNR has broad powers to deny or condition approvals of high capacity well applications.

On Jan. 6, 2017, eight business associations asked a Dane County court for permission to intervene in the litigation. Although the litigation is aimed at individual permit holders, if the relief requested by Clean Wisconsin is granted, the court decision could threaten the validity of hundreds of high capacity well permits issued under new DNR policies.

Ostensibly, Clean Wisconsin is asking the court to throw out Attorney General Brad Schimel’s May 10, 2016, formal opinion finding that DNR lacks authority to require cumulative impact analysis as a condition to granting a well permit. In response to that opinion, DNR revamped its high-capacity well program, which in turn, significantly reduced the permit application backlog.

The Schimel opinion rests on 2011 WI Act 21, which requires explicit delegation of authorities to agencies. The association intervenors argue in their brief that Act 21 limits DNR’s authority, and that any ruling in favor of Clean Wisconsin would put in jeopardy hundreds of high capacity well permits issued since the attorney general opinion.

GLLF Documents
Cover Letter to GLLF Petition Brief (Jan. 6, 2017)
GLLF Brief in Support of Petition to Intervene (Jan. 6, 2017)
GLLF Combined Affidavits (Various dates)
GLLF Notice of Petition and Petition to Intervene (Jan. 6, 2017)

Other Documents
Amicus Brief in Support of Petitioners on Behalf of Central Sands Water Action Coalition (June 19, 2017)
Petitioners’ Principal Brief
(June 16, 2017)
Affidavit of Carl A. Sinderbrand
(June 16, 2017)
Order Granting Permission to Intervene
(June 9, 2017)
Clean Wisconsin Notice of Motion and Motion for Fees and Costs
(Apr. 12, 2017)
Order Denying DOJ Motion to Dismiss
(Mar. 20, 2017)
Stipulation for Dismissal of Agri-Alliance, LLC (Mar. 10, 2017)
Clean Wisconsin Sur-Reply Brief in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss (Feb. 14, 2017)
DOJ/DNR Reply Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss
Clean Wisconsin Brief in Opposition to Motion to Dismiss
DOJ/DNR Notice of Motion and Motion to Dismiss
DOJ/DNR Brief in Support of Motion to Dismiss
Clean Wisconsin Petitions for Judicial Review
Joint Clean Wisconsin DOJ/DNR Motion to Consolidate Cases 16CV2816-2824

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