From email updates and study groups to public meetings and hearings, there are many ways to get the latest news and weigh in on DNR topics that could affect your business. You can find all DNR public meetings and hearings listed on the DNR calendar. Some email lists and study groups that businesses may be interested in are listed below.
Public Input Opportunities for Environmental Topics
For most of DNR's programs, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets out environmental rules in the Code of Federal Regulation (CFR) and then directs the state to implement the rules. Next, EPA's rules must be incorporated into the Wisconsin Administrative Code so that DNR has the authority to implement them. The state legislature can also pass laws that direct how the rules must be implemented. Once rules are final, DNR permits incorporate the rules that apply to those being covered by the permit.
As the rules are developed, the public can weigh in at each stage whether it's a new EPA rule, a DNR rule to implement EPA's, Wisconsin legislative rules. DNR permits also go through a public input stage as well. Each rule and permit development process has a law that sets out parameters for the public input stage: how long it lasts, how the agency should respond to comments, where the response to comments is posted, and so on.
How can you provide input? Read on to learn more.
Public Participation Spectrum
Public participation can be any process that directly engages the public input in making that decision. Public participation gives those that have an interest or stake in an issue, such as individuals, interest groups, communities the opportunity to influence decisions that affect their lives. Public participation involves seeking public input at specific points in the decision-making process about the issues when that input can help shape the decision or action. Decisions informed by public participation are more effective and sustainable because they take the needs and interests of all stakeholders, including vulnerable/marginalized populations, into account. In turn, those interested or impacted better understand and are more invested in the outcomes.
It is not always possible for the public to be involved in all major decisions, or in all aspects of any given decision or action. A commonly used spectrum for public participation levels can be found at Spectrum_8.5x11_Print (ymaws.com).
Based on the spectrum of participation, the public input options for federal and state proposed rules as well as DNR's permits are usually at the "consult" level. To engage with DNR at higher levels of participation, the Advisory Groups on this webpage have opportunities at "involve" and "collaborate" stages, when possible. Advisory group meetings are open to the public and can be found on the DNR's public meeting calendar.
If you have interest in a proposed rule from EPA, you can start at the Regulations.gov website. On that page, there is a search box to enter keywords. Also on that page, you can refer to the "What's Trending" lists as well as the "Explore" lists that show rules with comments due soon (today, next three days, next seven days) or posted recently (today, last three days, last seven days).
If you prefer to get emails to remind you to check on proposed rules, you can subscribe to the Daily Federal Register. The email lists all the rules posted for public review each day from each federal agency. If you only want to see environmental rules, then scroll down the list until you reach "Environmental Protection Agency".
The state administrative rule process can take 30-36 months to complete. There are two public input stages within that process, with the first focusing on the Economic Impact Analysis of the rule and the second focusing on the rule content. Input on the Economic Impact Analysis, or EIA, can occur somewhere between 12-20 months of the agency first drafting a scope for the rule, depending on how quickly the first few stages of the rule development progress. Comments are taken for 30-60 days, including during potential public hearings.
According to s. 227.137, Wis Stat., "An economic impact analysis of a proposed rule shall contain information on the economic effect of the proposed rule on specific businesses, business sectors, public utility ratepayers, local governmental units, and the state's economy as a whole. The agency or person preparing the analysis shall solicit information and advice from businesses, associations representing businesses, local governmental units, and individuals that may be affected by the proposed rule."
Public input on rule content will generally come about six months after the EIA comment period has closed. Depending on the number of hearings held, this can last 1-3 months.
Review the list of public input opportunities on the DNR's Public Input webpage or subscribe to Legislative Rule notifications to learn about any regulatory activity related to a specific topic of interest.
Each DNR program has a different process for their permit public input periods. To find documents available for public review, go to the following pages:
Environmental Impact Analysis/Natural Heritage/Endangered Resources
- Subscribe to the Construction Site Storm water and Industrial Storm Water newsletters under the Water topics to receive email notice of permits being revised/renewed.
- Go to water permits public notice search page.
- Subscribe to the Water Quality Program Policy and Guidance newsletter under the Water topics to receive email notice of permits being revised/renewed.
- Go to water permits public notice search page.
- Applications received (coming soon)
- Permits in public notice
- Permits recently issued (coming soon)
Many DNR programs offer a subscription service through a program called GovDelivery that help keep you up to date on issues you care about. Some newsletters that businesses may be interested include:
- Air News – Air News is the DNR Air Program's e-newsletter. Learn about new rules, events and actions that are being taken to reduce air pollution and help us all breathe a little easier
- EM Insight – Quarterly news and highlights from the DNR’s Environmental Management (EM) Division.
- Small Business Advisor – Provides environmental information to small businesses, including new state and federal regulations, trainings, conferences, and more.
- Forestry Stakeholder Input Opportunities – The DNR Division of forestry is committed to informing and involving our stakeholders in the development and review of materials that guide our programs.
- Private forestry news - Latest news and information for Wisconsin woodland owners regarding the Managed Forest Law and Forest Crop Law programs and private forest management.
- Urban Forestry News – Learn about specific urban and community forestry training sessions and events in Wisconsin.
- RR Report – Provides brief, timely information with links on cleanup and redevelopment issues such as new rules, updated forms, grant deadlines and awards, new guidance and more.
Waste & Materials Management
- Electronics Recycling – Updates from the E-Cycle Wiscons9n program about electronics recycling issues, resources and training. Scroll down to subscription tile.
- Hazardous Waste Decoded – A monthly email that gives explanations and advice on state and federal laws regulating the management of hazardous waste. Subscription link is in Additional Resources box on the right side of the page.
- Healthcare Waste News – Receive information and updates about the wide range of waste materials and concerns specific to healthcare facilities, including infections waste, pharmaceuticals, chemotherapy waste and medical waste reduction. Scroll down to subscription tile.
- Recycling Updates – Updates on new policy, grant opportunities, educational opportunities, new issues in recycling, and more. Scroll down to subscription tile.
- Solid Waste News – Information from DNR, EPA and other federal agencies, announcements about new guidance documents, and updates on current solid waste issues and stakeholder group happenings. Subscription link is in Additional Resources box on the right side of the page.
- The Compost Post – Sign up to receive links to webinars, announcements about new guidance documents, training opportunities and updates on current issues or legislation related to composting. Subscription link is in the Related Links box on the right side of the page.
- Healthy Watersheds, High-Quality Waters Initiative – a collaborative initiative working to provide a road map for how to strike an improved balance between restoration and protection, all while emphasizing and celebrating the wonderful waters of Wisconsin.
- Safe Water for All – emails about the Safe Water for All initiative, including upcoming events, rulemaking status, public comment opportunities, and more.
- Water Quality Program Policy and Guidance – Information and updates on Water Quality Program policies including updates to program guidance, administrative rules relating to water quality and economic impact analyses. Permit-specific updates and notifications are not included.
- Natural Resources Board – The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board sets policy for the Department of Natural Resources
- Conservation Congress – The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is the only statutory body in the state where citizens elect delegates to advise the Natural Resources Board and the Department of Natural Resources on how to responsibly manage Wisconsin's natural resources for present and future generations.
- Small Business Environmental Council – helps the DNR serve the small business community in smart and effective ways by advising the DNR on the effectiveness of the Small Business Environmental Assistance Program, providing a small business perspective on new regulations, reviewing tools and documents and advocating for small businesses.
- Air Management Study Group – provides a forum for the Air Program to receive input from and provide information to stakeholder organizations. The goal of the study group is to provide the Air Program with constructive feedback on policy and technical issues and to work collaboratively with DNR staff to find workable solutions.
- Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council – advises the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on the best ways to preserve, protect, expand and improve Wisconsin's urban and community forest resources.
- Nonmetallic Mining Advisory Committee (NMAC) – advises the DNR on administering the statewide nonmetallic mining reclamation program
- Wisconsin PFAS Action Council (WISPAC) – develops statewide initiatives to address growing public health and environmental concerns regarding certain PFAS substances.
- Brownfields Study Group – evaluates Wisconsin's current brownfields initiatives and recommends changes, as well as proposes additional incentives for the cleanup and reuse of abandoned or underused properties with real or perceived contamination. The study group continues to drive important brownfields policy changes in Wisconsin.
Waste & Materials Management
- Council on Recycling – advises the governor, Legislature and state agencies on solid waste reduction, recovery and recycling policy.
- Solid Waste Interested Parties – semiannual meetings in spring and fall that inform those who work with the solid waste program about rule, guidance and legislation updates; budget updates; program initiatives; EPA initiatives; status of solid waste program revenue account; and topics of interest to the attendees.
- Waste and Materials Management Study Group – serves as a forum for the program to receive input from, and provide information to, stakeholder organizations. The study group provides the Waste and Materials Management Program with constructive feedback on policy and technical issues and works collaboratively with DNR staff to find workable solutions.
- Drinking Water and Groundwater Study Group – serves as a forum for the program to receive input from and provide information to stakeholder organizations. The goal of the study group is to provide the DG Program with constructive feedback on policy and technical issues and to work collaboratively with DNR staff to find workable solutions.
- PVC Thermoplastic Casing Study Group – serves as a forum to provide information and feedback on the use of PVC casing for water wells, specifically identifying applicable research, learning industry perspectives, identifying questions and concerns about use of PVC casing in Wisconsin, assessing surrounding states’ regulations, and identifying advantages and disadvantages of PVC casing. The goal of the study group is to provide the DG Program with constructive feedback on policy and technical issues and to work collaboratively with DNR staff to find workable solutions.
- Wastewater Septage Study Group – serves as a forum for the program to receive input from, and provide information to, stakeholder organizations. The study group provides the Wastewater Septage Program with constructive feedback on policy and technical issues and works collaboratively with DNR staff to find workable solutions.
- Wisconsin Wetland Study Council – researches and make recommendations on a variety of wetland issues.