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State Codes and Statutes

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1.11

1.11 Governmental consideration of environmental impact. The legislature authorizes and directs that, to the fullest extent possible:

1.11(1)

(1) The policies and regulations shall be interpreted and administered in accordance with the policies set forth in this section and chapter 274, laws of 1971, section 1; and

1.11(2)

(2) All agencies of the state shall:

1.11(2)(c)

(c) Include in every recommendation or report on proposals for legislation and other major actions significantly affecting the quality of the human environment, a detailed statement, substantially following the guidelines issued by the United States council on environmental quality under P.L. 91-190, 42 USC 4331, by the responsible official on:

1.11(2)(c)1.

1. The environmental impact of the proposed action;

1.11(2)(c)2.

2. Any adverse environmental effects which cannot be avoided should the proposal be implemented;

1.11(2)(c)3.

3. Alternatives to the proposed action;

1.11(2)(c)4.

4. The relationship between local short-term uses of the human environment and the maintenance and enhancement of long-term productivity;

1.11(2)(c)5.

5. Any irreversible and irretrievable commitments of resources that would be involved in the proposed action should it be implemented; and

1.11(2)(c)6.

6. Such statement shall also contain details of the beneficial aspects of the proposed project, both short term and long term, and the economic advantages and disadvantages of the proposal.

1.11(2)(d)

(d) Prior to making any detailed statement, the responsible official shall consult with and obtain the comments of any agency which has jurisdiction or special expertise with respect to any environmental impact involved. Copies of such statement and the comments and views of the appropriate agencies, which are authorized to develop and enforce environmental standards shall be made available to the governor, the department of natural resources and to the public. Every proposal other than for legislation shall receive a public hearing before a final decision is made. Holding a public hearing as required by another statute fulfills this section. If no public hearing is otherwise required, the responsible agency shall hold the hearing in the area affected. Notice of the hearing shall be given by publishing a class 1 notice, under ch. 985, at least 15 days prior to the hearing in a newspaper covering the affected area. If the proposal has statewide significance, notice shall be published in the official state newspaper;

1.11(2)(e)

(e) Study, develop, and describe appropriate alternatives to recommended courses of action in any proposal which involves unresolved conflicts concerning alternative uses of available resources;

1.11(2)(h)

(h) Initiate and utilize ecological information in the planning and development of resource-oriented projects.

1.11(2)(j)

(j) Annually, no later than September 15, submit a report to the chief clerk of each house of the legislature for distribution to the legislature under s. 13.172 (2), including the number of proposed actions for which the agency conducted an assessment of whether an impact statement was required under par. (c) and the number of impact statements prepared under par. (c).

1.11(4)

(4) Nothing in this section affects the specific statutory obligations of any agency:

1.11(4)(a)

(a) To comply with criteria or standards of environmental quality;

1.11(4)(b)

(b) To coordinate or consult with any other state or federal agency; or

1.11(4)(c)

(c) To act, or refrain from acting contingent upon the recommendations or certification of any other state or federal agency.

1.11(5)

(5) The policies and goals set forth in this section are supplementary to those set forth in existing authorizations of agencies.

1.11 - ANNOT.

History: 1971 c. 274; 1973 c. 204; 1979 c. 89, 262; 1985 a. 29, 332; 1991 a. 273; 1993 a. 184, 213; 2001 a. 103.

1.11 - ANNOT.

Cross Reference: See also chs. NR 150, PSC 4, TCS 4 and ss. Adm 60.01, ATCP 3.07, Comm 1.01, DOC 335.01, DHS 18.01, NR 2.085, and Trans 400, Wis. adm. code.

1.11 - ANNOT.

The Wisconsin Environmental Protection Act, while not creating a public trust analogous to the public trust in the state's navigable waters, recognizes an interest sufficient to grant a person standing to question compliance with its provisions when it is alleged that agency action will harm the environment in the area where the person resides. Wisconsin's Environmental Decade, Inc. v. PSC, 69 Wis. 2d 1, 230 N.W.2d 243 (1975).

1.11 - ANNOT.

Counties are not "agencies of the state" within meaning of sub. (2) (c). Robinson v. Kunach, 76 Wis. 2d 436, 251 N.W.2d 449 (1977).

1.11 - ANNOT.

Sub. (2) (e) is applicable to proceedings involving authorization of priority systems for the curtailment of natural gas service. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. PSC, 79 Wis. 2d 161, 255 N.W.2d 917 (1977).

1.11 - ANNOT.

On judicial review of a state agency's decision not to prepare an environmental impact statement, the agency has the burden of producing a reviewable record reflecting a preliminary factual investigation into relevant areas of environmental concern and of showing a reasonable determination based on the same. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. PSC, 79 Wis. 2d 409, 256 N.W.2d 149 (1977).

1.11 - ANNOT.

The lack of a DNR prepared environmental impact statement did not invalidate a DNR order to close a landfill site. Holtz & Krause, Inc. v. DNR, 85 Wis. 2d 198, 270 N.W.2d 409 (1978).

1.11 - ANNOT.

DNR's decision to limit the scope of a threshold decision to consideration of the impact of a segment of a proposed sewer interceptor was reasonable when the segment had: 1) independent utility; 2) a main purpose of fulfilling a local need; 3) logical termini, and construction of the first segment did not compel construction of the second segment. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. DNR, 94 Wis. 2d 263, 288 N.W.2d 168 (Ct. App. 1979).

1.11 - ANNOT.

An agency determination that an EIS was adequately prepared is reviewed under s. 227.20. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. PSC, 98 Wis. 2d 682, 298 N.W.2d 205 (Ct. App. 1980).

1.11 - ANNOT.

The court erred in finding that this section applied to the department's code compliance review procedure. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. DILHR, 104 Wis. 2d 640, 312 N.W.2d 749 (1981).

1.11 - ANNOT.

An order establishing depreciation rates for a utility's nuclear plant did not require an environmental impact statement. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. PSC, 105 Wis. 2d 457, 313 N.W.2d 863 (Ct. App. 1981).

1.11 - ANNOT.

Standing to challenge a final EIS requires that the agency decision directly cause injury to the interest of the petitioner, which must be an interest recognized by law. Fox v. DHSS, 112 Wis. 2d 514, 334 N.W.2d 532 (1983).

1.11 - ANNOT.

An EIS is not required when the project will have minor impacts on the environment, but will have possible socio-economic impacts. Wisconsin Environmental Decade, Inc. v. DNR, 115 Wis. 2d 381, 340 N.W.2d 722 (1983).

1.11 - ANNOT.

Increased traffic congestion was a sufficient allegation of injury to acquire standing to challenge a final EIS. Milwaukee Brewers v. DHSS, 130 Wis. 2d 56, 387 N.W.2d 245 (1986).

1.11 - ANNOT.

When a state action did not come within an action type listed in DOA rules, an environmental assessment was required. A determination following an assessment that an EIS was not required for a building constructed for the state by a private developer under a lease/purchase agreement was reasonable under the circumstances. Larsen v. Munz Corp. 167 Wis. 2d 583, 482 N.W.2d 583 (1992).

1.11 - ANNOT.

The test as to whether an EIS should be conducted is one of reasonableness and good faith. When conditions for approval that compensate for any adverse environmental impacts are imposed, the statutory threshold of significant environmental impact is not crossed and no EIS is required. State ex rel. Boehm v. DNR, 174 Wis. 2d 657, 497 N.W.2d 445 (1993).

1.11 - ANNOT.

Section 227.42 (1) does not grant a right to a contested case hearing regarding the need for an EIS. North Lake Management District v. DNR, 182 Wis. 2d 500, 513 N.W.2d 703 (Ct. App. 1994).

1.11 - ANNOT.

When the legislature has selected a specific project site, consideration of alternative sites is too remote and speculative and not reasonably related to the proposed project. Shoreline Park Preservation, Inc. v. DOA, 195 Wis. 2d 750, 537 N.W.2d 388 (Ct. App. 1995), 94-2512.

1.11 - ANNOT.

The burden of proving the adequacy of an environmental impact statement is discussed. CUB v. PSC, 211 Wis. 2d 537, 565 N.W.2d 554 (Ct. App. 1997), 96-0867.

1.11 - ANNOT.

It was reasonable to suspend the requirement for a draft EIS and the corresponding comment period, when legislatively imposed time constraints could not have been met if they were not suspended. RURAL v. PSC, 2000 WI 129, 239 Wis. 2d 660, 619 N.W.2d 888, 99-2430.

1.11 - ANNOT.

Court review of an EIS is narrow. The PSC's determination that an EIS is adequate is a conclusion of law that is accorded great weight deference. An EIS must be assessed in light of the rule of reason, which requires an EIS to furnish only such information as appears to be reasonably necessary under the circumstances for evaluation of the project rather than to be so all-encompassing in scope that the task of preparing it would become either fruitless or well nigh impossible. While reasonable alternatives are to be considered, every potentiality need not be evaluated. Clean Wisconsin, Inc. v. Public Service Commission, 2005 WI 93, 282 Wis. 2d 250, 700 N.W.2d 768, 04-3179.

1.11 - ANNOT.

The EIS is an informational tool that does not compel a particular decision by the agency or prevent the agency from concluding that other values outweigh the environmental consequences of a proposed action. Clean Wisconsin, Inc. v. Public Service Commission, 2005 WI 93, 282 Wis. 2d 250, 700 N.W.2d 768, 04-3179.

1.11 - ANNOT.

Agency decision-making under the Wisconsin environmental policy act. 1977 WLR 111.