MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The state Justice Department has shrunk staffing levels in its environmental protection unit to the lowest level in 25 years.
The Wisconsin State Journal reports the unit had six attorneys last year compared to 10 as recently as 2008. A DOJ spokesman says he couldn’t explain the trend, although he mentioned that lawyers with the agency’s special litigation unit and solicitor general’s office work so closely with other attorneys that it’s hard to determine how much responsibility they’ve assumed for environmental protection.
Carl Sinderbrand, a lawyer who once worked in the environmental unit, says the staffing reduction may reflect the dwindling number of pollution cases the Department of Natural Resources has referred for legal action. Last year fines against polluters dropped to their lowest point since at least 1994.