Susan Bence

As another batch of seesawing weather conditions arrives in Wisconsin – from flooding to snow, leaders have been planning for the worst while hoping for the best.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence checked with people in metro Milwaukee preparing for what might – or might not – come.

Sandy Rusch Walton with Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works says residents started calling first thing Tuesday, following the first big round of rain.

Susan Bence

We normally think of debate and discussion over topics such as water quality and climate change in either scientific or economic terms. For example, what are the implications for business and employment in the face of increased environmental regulation?

Susan Bence

No one expected Wednesday’s hearing on a mining bill at the state Capitol to be a short or calm affair, and it was not.

Dozens of people squeezed into the chamber for what is slated to be the only public hearing on a GOP propelled piece of legislation.

It’s designed to push a proposed iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin into a living, breathing job creator.

Iron County Development

Mining is in the air at the state capitol. Yesterday, Democratic Senator Tim Cullen unveiled his version of a iron ore mining bill he believes balances environmental protection and the potential of jobs in the Penokee Hills that straddle Iron and Ashland counties.

The bill relates to a proposed mining operation just below Lake Superior, in the wetland- and stream-rich Bad River watershed. Meanwhile, at this hour in Madison, a recently released GOP bill is being scrutinized and commented on at a public hearing - it is the only one scheduled for the bill.

K Klein

There will be a flurry of activity at the state Capitol this week – and mining legislation is the topic of discussion.

GOP leaders will hold a public hearing, but not before a Democratic senator reveals a mining bill of his own.

A piece of land just south of Lake Superior – rich not only in streams and wetlands, but also in iron ore, is propelling the debate.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence looks at the debate which seems to be accelerating at a furious pace.

P Rasmussen

Just hours after Gov. Walker said his agenda includes rewriting Wisconsin's mining laws, Republican legislators introduced a slightly-reworked mining bill. Most of it is similar to the plan the Senate rejected by one vote last year.

New GOP Senator Tom Tiffany touted the new plan as one that would enable the state to create thousands of new jobs without weakening environmental standards.

Susan Bence

Later Tuesday, the Natural Resources Defense Council will release a map ranking the states for extreme weather conditions over the last year.

We’ve already learned that Wisconsin is in the top ten because of the summer drought.

That is no surprise to many residents – from farmers to scientists.

We begin a series of stories on how people here intend to cope with increasingly erratic weather.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence takes us first to an apple orchard in southwestern Wisconsin.

T Fitz

Multiple forces are colliding as the Legislature again grapples with Wisconsin’s mining standards.

A resolution cannot come soon enough for people hungry for the jobs a new iron-ore mine in northern Wisconsin could create.

The complexity of generating work and protecting the environment is not lost on Tom Fitz.

He teaches geosciences at Northland College – a short drive from the potential mine in the Penokee Hills.

Milwaukee Office of Environmental Sustainability

The Port of Milwaukee announced this week that the wind turbine that supplies energy to the port’s administration building has been paying dividends to the city. In less than a year of operation, the turbine shifted electrical costs at the port by almost $15,000 dollars. In fact, the electrical utility actually paid the port for the surplus energy it produced.

Susan Bence

A church on Milwaukee’s near south side nearly burst at its seams Tuesday evening as people gathered to talk about mining.

Leaders from the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Tribe lead the event in hopes of rallying support to block a proposed mine near their reservation.

WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence attended the meeting and joined Bob Bach in the studio to share some of what she saw.

Susan Bence

A report in yesterday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel indicates Republican legislative leaders in Wisconsin plan to introduce new legislation to streamline the permit process for mining in Wisconsin. New assembly speaker Robin Vos said such legislation could come as early as next week.

A similar bill – AB426 - was defeated in the state senate this year, but Vos and other Republican leaders are optimistic that with revisions, such a bill would see passage - which could pave the way for a new iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin.

Concerns about the presence of mercury in fish keeps a lot of people from consuming what comes off the line. And that’s a concern anywhere there is a large body of fresh water, like, say, Lake Michigan.

Over the last decade, a group of scientists set out to discover if new mercury added to a lake would make its way more quickly into the aquatic food chain faster than “existing” mercury – what is released naturally into the atmosphere, by volcanoes or otherwise, and makes its way into watersheds.

B Rongstad

Wisconsin’s first grey wolf hunt closed weeks before its deadline.

However, debate over a component of the new law remains fierce.

Friday a Dane County judge could rule on that contested point – the use of dogs in future hunts.

Some outdoor enthusiasts such as the Wisconsin Bear Hunters Association believe using dogs to track wolves is safe and appropriate.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

New research shows how quickly and dramatically plants in Wisconsin came under stress this year. 

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the drought that has afflicted much of the United States this year has been the most severe in at least 25 years. But the federal agency wants to do more than simply report the bad news.

Five months ago Monday, a gasoline pipeline ruptured outside of West Bend and turned life in a small nearby community upside down.

More than 50,000 gallons spilled onto a farm field in the Town of Jackson, seeped underground and contaminated wells.

As the town grapples with finding a long-term solution to their water problem, WUWM Environmental Reporter Susan Bence visited a couple anxiously hoping for light at the end of the tunnel.