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Outings Calendar

Sat, Feb 22: Snowshoe the Emma Carlin Trail

Sun, Feb 23: Snowshoe Navarino Nature Center

Sat, March 8:  “Down the Drain” Tour Madison Metropolitan Wastewater Treatment Plant

Sat, April 5: Hike New Glarus Woods State Park

Click here for more details and other outings....

Take Action to Stop the Alberta Clipper Tar Sands Expansion

Tar Sands


Canadian pipeline company Enbridge is proposing to double the capacity of the Alberta Clipper pipeline that runs across northern Minnesota and Wisconsin to transport 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day, enough to rival Keystone XL.  Approving this expansion would open the door to oil shipping on Lake Superior and increase the flow of tar sands throughout the entire Great Lakes region.  The movement against tar sands -- one of the dirtiest sources of fuel in the world -- has reached a fever pitch in the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline. Enbridge's proposed Alberta Clipper pipeline expansion is the next piece of this puzzle.

We need all hands on deck to send an overwhelming message: our lakes, rivers, and climate are too valuable to sacrifice in the name of corporate profits.  Urge the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to reject the proposed Alberta Clipper expansion today! Comment deadline is April 14 at 4:30!  Click here to read the John Muir Chapter's official comments.

Oppose Allowing Excess Nitrate Pollution for Factory Farm

Blue Baby syndrome
Attend the DNR Hearing April 15,
& Speak Out Against Nitrate Pollution!

Consuming excess nitrates has been linked to birth defects and miscarriages in pregnant women, bladder cancer and diabetes in adults, and "blue baby syndrome" a condition in which infants convert nitrate to nitrite, and nitrate combines with hemoglobin to form methhemoglobin which depletes blood of oxygen and can lead to coma, brain damage and death.  Unfortunately, increasing numbers of factory farms have led to increased incidences of nitrate contamination in drinking water wells.  The Journal of Environmental Health reported in 2013 that 10% of 4,000 Wisconsin wells tested between 2003-10 were contaminated with excess nitrates.

Burr Oak Heifers (formerly known as Opitz Custom Heifers) has a history of water violations.  In August 2013 the Adams County Circuit Court ordered them to close four facilities near Coloma, Wisconsin that housed 4,250 cattle on earthen lots because they had polluted the groundwater.  They were fined $65,000 dollars, forced to pay $10,000 for a neighbor's well, and ordered to clear the fields of cattle due to groundwater pollution issues.  In response, Burr Oak is building an enclosed facility on the same property to house 3,100 cattle. 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) is now proposing to give this factory farm with a history of pollution violations a water discharge permit with a nitrate limit of 28 mg / L, rather than the state and federal limit of 10 mg / L (known as an ACL or Alternate Concentration Limit). The higher limit is being offered because the background levels of nitrate at well #2. are already at 14.9 mg/L. The DNR has used NR 140.28 to justify their action, claiming that, "the existing or anticipated increase in the concentration of that substance [nitrates in this case] does not present a threat to public health or welfare." However, local citizens are concerned about the safety of their drinking water. Allowing this known polluter to vastly exceed nitrate limits sets a dangerous public health precedent that will make Wisconsin's nitrate pollution problem worse

Thanks to many who have already spoken out against this proposal, you too have a chance
to weigh in on the dangers of allowing Burr Oak to continue polluting our groundwater with nitrates.  A public hearing will be held April 15, 2014 at the Adams Community Center!

What: Burr Oak Heifers WPDES permit public hearing
When: Tuesday, April 15, 1:00 PM (info briefing will be followed by public hearing at 2:00 PM)
Where: 569 North Cedar Street, Adams, WI, 53910
Action: Testify at the hearing or email comments to Terrence Kafka by April 22 opposing the DNR's proposal to allow Burr Oak's excessive nitrate permit limits.   

Tell the Department of Natural Resources to protect our water, rather than giving a pass to proven polluters (if you use our action alert form rather than sending an individual email to DNR staffer Terrence Kafka, please customize the subject and body to share your story and put your nitrate concerns into your own words).  Thank you for taking action to protect Wisconsin's drinking water and public health!


Speak out for Transit and Clean Transportation at DOT Town Halls:
 Speak out for
 Clean Transportation
Take Action

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is launching an initiative,Transportation Moves Wisconsin, to get feedback about transportation needs and how to finance those needs in the future.  Please attend and speak out for a transportation network in Wisconsin that provides options for everyone to move through Wisconsin.  If you do plan to attend one of the hearings, please contact Elizabeth Ward at

Hearings will be held throughout Wisconsin:
All hearings start at 5:00 (with presentations at 5:30)
April 15: Superior: WisDOT Northwest Region Office, 1701 N. 4th Street
April 16: Eau Claire: UW-Eau Claire, Centennial Hall Building, Room 1614
April 30: Wausau: Northcentral Technical College: 1000 W Campus Drive
May 7: Green Bay: US 41 Project Office: 1940 West Mason Street
May 8: Oshkosh: UW Alumni and Conference Center: 625 Pearl Avenue
May 20: West Allis: MATC West Allis Campus, Room 117: 1200 South 71st Street
May 21: Kenosha: Gateway Technical College: Madrigrano Auditorium: 3520 30th Avenue

Key Talking Points include: (click here for the full list of talking points)

  • State-funding for transit should be increased by $20 million (restoring cuts and bringing state funding back to historic levels) as it is a vital for of transportation in Wisconsin.
  • Regional Transportation Authorities (RTAs) should be allowed throughout Wisconsin.  No one knows what transportation options a community needs better than the community.  RTAs provide this local control.
  • Local Road Reimbursements should be increased as maintenance on the local roads is critical. This winter has certainly highlighted the need for more funding for road repairs, especially filling potholes.
  • User Fees Don’t Cover the Cost of Roads: gas taxes, vehicle registration fees, and drivers’ license fees don’t begin to cover the costs of merely maintaining our highways, roads, and streets – much less expanding them.  Recent highway expansion has required using funding that should otherwise go to other services and decreasing the debt.
  • Gas Tax: The gas tax has not been able to properly fund the transportation budget, as Wisconsinites are driving less and vehicles are becoming more efficient.  The decision to increase the gas tax should not be made lightly and the following should be considered :
    • Other ways to balance the transportation budget: before increasing revenues, the Department should consider the large, expensive planned highway expansions and whether these are necessary.  Each project should be scrutinized: Is there a simpler, less expensive alternative? Or, is  the project no longer needed as Wisconsinites drive less than usually projected?  For example, a WisPIRG report showed the official internal statement of $125 million for the Highway 15 widening project in Outagamie County; the report states that an intersection improvement might be a lower-cost and viable alternative to a major highway constructions project.  It also states that without additional spending the Level of Service (LOS) on the road likely won’t deteriorate until 2040.  
    • Effect on low-income communities: Increasing the gas tax will disproportionately affect low-income people of Wisconsin as the cost of gas makes up a larger part of their income.  Alternatives, like transit, should be well funded in order to ensure these communities have access to their jobs, the grocery store, and other important needs.
    • All forms of transportation receive the benefit:   The immense growth of these projects overtime have forced transit and local road reimbursements to receive a smaller and smaller portion of the transportation budget.  All transportation options should be well-funded.  


Take Action to Prevent Another Raw Trade Deal Today


The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a devastating trade policy that would cost Wisconsin jobs and lower working conditions and environmental standards worldwide, is being rammed through Congress in an alarming way.  Last week, fast track authority for the TPP was introduced.  Fast track limits legislative review and debate, requiring Congress to vote the deal up or down without amendments. Once approved, the TPP would actually require changes in local law where it conflicts with the terms of the agreement.

Like other free trade agreements before this one, the Sierra Club is concerned that US citizens have been kept in the dark while its details have been negotiated for years in secret by and for the world’s largest corporations. In twenty years NAFTA has cost American workers 700,000 jobs.  How many jobs are we going to lose with the Trans-Pacific Partnership? The Sierra Club is also troubled by the TPP’s potential to undermine state and federal environmental protections. Similar provisions in previous agreements have already led to a race to the bottom that has resulted in water contamination, habitat destruction, and loss of biodiversity for participating countries. Finally, we have acute concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement’s potential to fuel destructive frac sand mining and fracking by speeding up exports of US natural gas to TPP countries with no Department of Energy review or assessment of the environmental or economic implications.

Since 2010, negotiations have been taking place for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a huge, NAFTA-style deal involving the United States and the governments of Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan and Vietnam. Negotiations are being conducted in secret, with little opportunity for citizens to see what is being proposed and agreed to.  Everything from labor standards, food safety, environmental standards and human rights will be rolled back and dismantled if the TPP passes.  The public deserves the necessary time to debate and fully understand the ramifications of this massive trade deal. Click here to send a letter to your member of Congress.  Tell them to get TPP off fast track today.


Urge Legislators to Support Clean Energy for Wisconsin!

Sign the petition & help us reach our 5,000 signature goal this summer! 

Wisconsin’s job creation rank continues to slip as we send over $12.5 billion out of state to import fossil fuels every year. We have a great chance to kickstart our economy by using assets that exist in our state right now to create high-tech renewable energy jobs. All that is missing is the political will to grasp the future. By investing in clean energy, Wisconsin will be far better positioned to compete in the 21st Century economy.

Wisconsin’s 10% Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) will be met by all of our utilities by  2015. New goals are needed now to ensure continued renewable energy development that will create jobs, protect our health and environment, and keep more of our money in Wisconsin. We cannot afford to fall behind as clean energy companies chase states with better policies!  Sign our petition urging your state legislators to protect our environment and create jobs by expanding renewable electricity standards, improving net metering, and allowing clean energy choice today!

Clean Energy Creates Jobs! Wisconsin already employs over 1,600 in the solar industry and another 2-3,000 in the wind industry. Investing in clean energy would stimulate economic development, provide revenue for rural communities, and create much-need jobs in a variety of areas, from manufacturing to research to installation and maintenance positions.

Wisconsin can't afford to fall behind in the clean energy race!  According to the American Wind Energy Association, Wisconsin had only 648 MW of wind installed by the end of 2012, as compared to 988 MW in Michigan, 1,543 MW in Indiana, 3,568 MW in Illinois, 5,133 MW in Iowa, and 2,987 MW in Minnesota.  As we look around to neighboring states, we are left wondering, why isn’t Wisconsin open for clean energy business?

Clean Air Protects our Environment! Burning coal is the top contributor to climate change, and Mercury from coal-fired power plants has led to fish consumption advisories for every lake and river in Wisconsin. Clean energy provides an emission-free alternative to coal.

Clean Energy Protects our Health!  Soot and smog from coal-fired power plants have been linked to asthma, heart attacks, and deaths. In contrast, no peer-reviewed studies have found any negative health effects of wind energy, or evidence of ‘wind turbine syndrome.’

Sign our petition urging your state legislators to protect our environment and create jobs by expanding renewable electricity standards, improving net metering, and allowing clean energy choice today!

Visit the JMC Legislative Tracker

Learn about the John Muir Chapter's positions on current Wisconsin legislation that affects YOU, right here in Wisconsin. Find out more by visiting Legislative Tracker, then Take Action by contacting your elected officials today!


Take Action on National Conservation Issues

Click Here to take action on federal legislation related to clean energy and global warming, protecting forests and other wild lands, protecting threatened and endangered species, and more through the Sierra Club action page.