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An affiliate of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

Clean Wisconsin, Inc., et al. v. Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, et al.

Court: Supreme Court of Wisconsin
Appeal No.: 2018AP59
Status: Case Closed
WMC Involvement: Intervenor/Co-Appellant
This case involved questions of interpretation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 21, a significant regulatory reform adopted almost a decade ago. Act 21 limits agency authority to the explicit language of that agency’s enabling statutes.

DNR abided by Act 21 and followed its explicit statutory authority in granting a total of 9 high capacity well permits. Clean Wisconsin and others sued DNR, claiming that the agency was also able to use non-explicit grants of authority, and in fact, was required to take into consideration other factors when deciding whether to issue those high capacity well permits.

WMC intervened along with several other business groups in order to ensure Act 21 was properly defended. The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of Clean Wisconsin, holding that DNR had “broad but explicit authority to consider the environmental effects of a proposed high capacity well” even when such consideration was not statutorily required.