Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act WEPA

The Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act (WEPA) is a state law designed to encourage environmentally sensitive decision making by state agencies. WEPA spells out the state's environmental policy and requires the WDNR and other state agencies to consider the environmental effects of their actions to the extent possible under their other statutory authorities. It also establishes the principle that broad citizen participation should be part of environmental decision-making. WEPA imposes procedural and analytical responsibilities on the DNR and other agencies, but does not provide authority to protect the environment. While this law does not apply to local government decisions, local projects involving state financial assistance or regulatory oversight are affected by it.

WEPA requires the WDNR and other state agencies to gather relevant environmental information and use it in their decision-making. Agencies must also look at appropriate alternatives to the particular course of action they are proposing. If the action is a "major action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment," the law requires agencies to consult with other agencies about possible environmental impacts, prepare and circulate an environmental impact statement (EIS), and hold a public hearing.

WEPA applies only to the actions of state agencies. The law does not apply to local governments or private parties unless their actions involve state agency regulation or funding. Application of the law in state agency decision making has limitations, including not allowing the agency to substitute an alternative to what is proposed.

Caltha LLP provides expert consulting services to public and private sector clients nationwide to address Environmental Review and Environmental Impact Assessment.

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