The Wisconsin Supreme Court has been asked to settle a series of longstanding legal disputes over natural resources, a decision that could shape the power of state regulators to protect public waters from pollution and overuse for years to come.
Supreme Court rulings in the lawsuits between conservationists and businesses will put an imprint on every service of state government, a state court of appeals panel said Wednesday as it asked the top court to take the cases.
A key question is whether a state law or a previous Supreme Court decision should take precedence.The 2011 law states that state agencies can’t take actions that haven’t been explicitly authorized in law or rules approved by elected officials.
In asking the Supreme Court to decide the cases, the Waukesha-based appeals court panel said it agreed with parties on both sides about one thing.
“We agree with the State and Clean Wisconsin that the court’s determination regarding the scope and breadth of (the 2011 state law) will have implications far beyond the permitting process for high capacity wells and pollution discharge elimination systems,” the three appeals court judges said in their decision. “(It) will touch every state agency within Wisconsin.”