Posted at 2:30 p.m. on October 30, 2019 The Brillion News MADISON – Governor Tony Evers on Wednesday, October 30, declared a statewide energy emergency, one that primarily affects farmers and rural residents. “Due to unforeseen circumstances, including a late corn harvest and sudden cold snap, demand for propane has sharply increased across Wisconsin and the Midwest,” a statement from the governor’s office said. An executive order issued by the governor allows for more timely delivery of petroleum products across the state. Propane is in demand because corn producers want it to dry newly-harvested corn. It is also in high demand because temperatures dropped, increasing the demand for propane for home heating and cooking. The executive order essentially waives restrictions on the time propane truck drivers can be behind the wheel. The order notes the following problems: The state’s corn harvest is over two weeks behind schedule because of late planting and wet weather, increasing the need to dry corn now. The ONEOK propane pipeline is experiencing outages and is two weeks behind delivering propane to Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. There is a shortage of propane in Wisconsin because of the shortage of the fuel in Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota. The emergency order is valid for 30 days from its issuance on October 30. All over-the-road drivers are exempt from driving hour restrictions – but carriers cannot force drivers to operate. “A driver who notifies a motor carrier that he or she needs immediate rest shall be given at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty before the driver may be required to return to service,” the order said. No other motor carrier laws are waived – just the hourly driving limits.
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Posted at 12:50 p.m. on October 11, 2019 The Brillion News MADISON – The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) announced that an unauthorized third party accessed up to three WHEDA email accounts and may have potentially gained access to personal information of an estimated 2,100 Wisconsinites in WHEDA’s single family mortgage program. WHEDA Executive Director Joaquín Altoro said an investigation confirmed that the unauthorized third party gained entry into the WHEDA email accounts through a phishing attack. As a result of the attack, the unauthorized third party obtained WHEDA user credentials, which may have allowed unauthorized access to personal information for some WHEDA customers who applied for single family loans. Altoro said the incident occurred on or around Thursday August 22 and was discovered early the following Monday morning, August 26. Upon learning of the incident, WHEDA’s IT personnel disabled access to the compromised email accounts and began an investigation. In addition, Altoro said WHEDA alerted law enforcement officials about the incident and brought in forensic IT experts to examine the situation, determine how it happened and review the potential extent of the impact. “This is the first time this has ever happened at WHEDA, and we take this very seriously. We already invest significantly in information technology security and staff training, and we will be doing more of it in the future,” he said. “We regret that this happened and will work with those affected to reduce any chances for negative impacts.” Altoro said it is possible that the unauthorized third party gained access to a range of customer information, such as names, social security numbers, driver’s license number or state identification number, and bank account numbers. To date, WHEDA is not aware of any misuse of customer information as a result of this incident. Altoro said WHEDA will provide one year of identity theft protection and insurance as well as credit monitoring at no charge to impacted customers through Experian IdentityWorksSM. He said that WHEDA also has established a toll-free telephone line through Experian for customers to call with questions – 1-833-704-9390. He noted that WHEDA has reached out to all impacted customers with additional information and is also briefing the various financial institutions that participate in the WHEDA single family mortgage program. Altoro noted that WHEDA has an information security program that is audited annually by an outside expert and includes a yearly internal security review of computer operating systems as well as regular employee training. He also said there are regular investments in IT security upgrades, new hardware and software improvements.
Posted at 11:10 a.m. on September 26, 2019
The Brillion News
Additional NR 151 Public Hearings to be Held After Fall Harvest
MISHICOT – The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board on Wednesday, September 25, directed the Department of Natural Resources to expand public input regarding the department’s process in developing rules relating to the state’s water quality standards.
The effort is intended to decrease nitrate pollution in areas of the state with highly permeable soils susceptible to groundwater contamination.
To achieve water quality standards required by state statute, NR 151 establishes statewide runoff pollution performance standards, prohibitions and practices for agricultural facilities. Some critics say the proposed rules would stop expansion of large dairy farms using confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs). Many environmental and small-farm advocates liked the proposed rules changes.
The rule also sets performance standards for non-agricultural facilities and transportation facilities.
The Legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules called for a preliminary hearing on the scope statement that outlines the parameters of the rulemaking.
The DNR sought NRB approval at the September meeting for that hearing. The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board is asking for the public hearings relating to this process be expanded to three cities across the state including Fond du Lac, Hancock Research Center and Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville to be held after Nov. 1.
“This is not the board delaying the process. This is the board wanting to increase the public input for this very important issue affecting Wisconsinites,” said NRB Chairman Dr. Frederick Prehn. “We are asking to expand public input because we truly want everyone at the table to help us tackle this. That also means making sure members of the agricultural community are part of this serious discussion which is why out of respect for their hard work during the harvest we ask for the public hearings to be held after November 1.”
By law, if the statewide performance standards and prohibitions do not achieve state water quality standards, the DNR may develop targeted performance standards.
“This is a critical issue that needs a transparent, robust public input process. The research shows that 39% of Wisconsinites rely on private wells for their drinking water and thousands of those wells have nitrate levels so high the water is unsafe. We must fix that,” said DNR Deputy Secretary Todd Ambs. “We look forward to beginning that discussion in November as we work toward the goal of clean safe drinking water for the citizens of Wisconsin.”
Nitrate is Wisconsin’s most widespread groundwater contaminant. Approximately 90% of nitrate in groundwater originates from agricultural sources such as land application of fertilizers and manure. Much of nitrate comes from fertilizer applied to corn fields and use of nitrogen fertilizer has been increasing for decades. Elevated nitrate can cause miscarriage, congenital disabilities, elevated cancer risk and other disorders.
Following these three preliminary public hearings, the next step is the DNR seeking NRB approval of the scope statement, which then allows the department to start a rulemaking process.
The public can watch board meeting webcasts online. After each meeting, the webcast will be permanently available on demand.