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Wisconsin Weekly is a roundup of the week’s top stories from around the state by Wisconsin Watch and trusted news outlets. Access to some stories may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing, and sign up to get our free newsletters here

Of note: This week we highlight a story by Wisconsin Watch’s Erin Gretzinger exploring gaps in state law when it comes to property owners’ responsibility to clean up contamination. Gretzinger tells the story of Zach Skrede, who bought a home and 20 acres of land in Adams County that he did not know was contaminated with asbestos-laden roofing material. Skrede fought for two years with state regulators and a roofing company, which finally agreed to clean up the contamination. But some owners in Wisconsin are not so lucky. They can be held liable to pollution they don’t even know about.

Zach Skrede is seen on his property in the town of Easton, in Adams County, Wis., on Oct. 10, 2022. Skrede purchased his house and the surrounding land in 2019, and he did not know asbestos-containing material was on the property. Since then, he has had to work with the state Department of Natural Resources, and the original polluter, Brazos Urethane, to get it cleaned up. (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch)

From ‘dream’ property to nightmare: Some Wisconsinites pay the price for pollution they didn’t cause

Wisconsin Watch — January 9, 2023

From manure-tainted groundwater to PFAS in drinking water, individual property owners can be left on their own to mitigate environmental hazards without enough state funding to cover cleanups. Under Wisconsin law, property owners are sometimes even forced to clean up previous contamination.

Related coverage from the Door County Pulse: Public hearing planned on proposed S&S Jerseyland Dairy expansion

America’s biggest museums fail to return Native American human remains

ProPublica/NBC News — January 11, 2023

The remains of more than 110,000 Native American, Native Hawaiian and Alaska Natives’ ancestors are still held by museums, universities and federal agencies, including some in Wisconsin. A 1990 federal law called for remains to be returned to descendants or tribal nations.

Why haven’t these been?

Other coverage from the Appleton Post Crescent: A new national report sheds light on the ‘devastating cycle’ of Native Americans being jailed up to seven times more often than white people

A handful of road salt is shown Dec. 13, 2022 on Jones Island in Milwaukee. Increased salinity can affect water quality and can harm nearby ecosystems. (Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

Road salts wash into Mississippi River, damaging ecosystems and pipes

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — January 12, 2023

The use of road salt during winter is nothing new for people across the Midwest, particularly in its upper stretches where the presence of snow and ice can linger from December into April. But there’s growing awareness of the harm it can cause to freshwater resources — wreaking havoc on aquatic life, disrupting ecosystems and making its way into groundwater and corroding pipes.

State Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, attends Gov. Tony Evers’ first State of the State address in Madison, Wis., at the State Capitol on Jan. 22, 2019. August, the Assembly’s majority leader, is pushing for a constitutional amendment that would weaken the governor’s power by requiring the Legislature to sign off on spending any federal money. (Emily Hamer / Wisconsin Watch)

Wisconsin Republicans try to skirt vetoes, let voters decide

Associated Press — January 9, 2023

Republican lawmakers are moving quickly in the opening days of the legislative session to work around Wisconsin’s Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who vetoed a record number of bills from the GOP-controlled Legislature in his first term. Four constitutional amendments primarily supported by Republicans could be put before voters as soon as April.

Related coverage from AP: Wisconsin Elections Commission member bragged about GOP plan to suppress Milwaukee votes

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