Recently, several media outlets chose to cover the topic of quarry regulation that was initially included in the state budget by the Legislature and subsequently vetoed by Gov. Scott Walker.
Unfortunately, if a “truth-o-meter” was applied to their own reporting, many would come disappointedly close to a “pants-on-fire” ranking.
For example, the La Crosse Tribune reported that the budget motion “prohibits counties and municipalities from regulating blasting, hours of operation, and noise, air and water quality.”
The facts are that nearly every aspect of existing local ordinances was grandfathered. New ordinances (remember existing ordinances would have been grandfathered) could regulate noise at a time weighted average of 65 decibels. Moving forward, local governments could effectively regulate blasting, air and water quality at state-determined levels, except that they could be more restrictive on a number of fronts.
Hours of operation could be limited to no more than 72 daylight hours per week except for quarries that were contracted to complete a public works project that required nighttime work. The Wisconsin DOT is doing more nighttime work because it is more efficient and safer for workers. It is hard to argue against short-term nighttime work when it protects construction workers.
The media also failed to mention what some in industry want — complete removal of local regulation of quarries, sand mines and anything related to air and water for all businesses. The budget motion would have closed a chapter on continued attempts at industrial overreach. Unfortunately, the media played a role in keeping that chapter open.