April 14, 2011- Right or wrong, Koch Industries has served as the bogeyman for all the evil doings of the Walker administration.
Sometimes there's no smoking gun — like the new state contract for copy paper with Koch-owned subsidiary Georgia-Pacific, which was awarded while Gov. Jim Doyle was still in office.
But this new report from the liberal ThinkProgress.org offers some insight into Gov. Scott Walker's call for delaying implementation of tougher water pollution laws in Wisconsin.
First some background:
Koch Industries since 2005 has owned Georgia-Pacific, which owns the former Fort Howard paper-making facility in Green Bay. The Green Bay plant is one of the largest contributors of phosphorus into Wisconsin waters. One state report estimates that Georgia-Pacific is responsible for nearly 10 percent of total phosphorus pollution in the Lower Fox River.
In 2005, the Department of Natural Resources issued a permit to Georgia-Pacific to nearly double its phosphorus releases in the Fox River. But a group of citizens challenged the move, claiming the DNR's permit violated the Clean Water Act.
After a series of lawsuits, the Wisconsin Third District Court of Appeals in 2010 finally ruled that the public has a right to challenge the permit and that the DNR did not appropriately hold public hearings.
On a separate track, Doyle's Natural Resources Board last year adopted new regulations to control phosphorus pollution to slow algae growth in Wisconsin waters.
Koch obviously was not happy with either the court ruling on its permit or the tougher regulations on phosphorus — but it had an ally in Walker.
The DNR's new phosphorus regulations were due to take effect in January but have been delayed by the new administration. Also tucked inside Walker's infamous "budget repair bill" was a provision to revise the phosphorus limits proposed by the Natural Resources Board.
The Walker administration has since announced a two-year delay of all phosphorus regulations passed last year and has made it clear no rules will be implemented until at least 2013.