The human waste dumping case so much in the news
- - and hat tip to the Wisconsin State Journal's Ron Seely - - showed
us the true face of Scott Walker and the corporatists he installed at
the helm of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to favor
private interests over the public's health and welfare.
The DNR is the lead agency charged with preserving the state's natural resources, including waters that belong to all the people, according to the State Constitution's Public Trust Doctrine, yet we now know:
* That Walker's people chose not to refer the dumping and its multiple record-keeping violations to law enforcement, though the dumping took place several times on farm land near residential wells.
* That Walker's people chose to accept several thousand dollars of ticket payments instead, claiming it was the perpetrator's first offense and an innocent mistake.
* That the corporate officials and private-sector ideologues Walker put in charge at the DNR believe voluntary, self-regulation will keep polluters in line.
* That the perpetrator's operation of a different company had led to its referral by the DNR to the Department of Justice in 2008 and an eventual $240,000 fine.
* That the DNR has made a decision to cut back on air and water law violations and that Walker is comfortable with that.
* That the US EPA has taken the DNR heavily to task over its clean water monitoring before the human waste dumping case broke, finding:
75 "apparent omissions and deviations" from federal law in the rules used by the state to issue permits and regulate federal clean water laws. Among the deficiencies were several that are the result of regulation changes adopted under the Walker administration. The EPA, for example, questioned a Wisconsin regulation passed in May that would require state agencies to put water standards in place only if a law provides for it.Remember the Public Trust Doctrine? Read it, absorb its recognition of the importance of "cumulative impacts," and see whether you want Walker and the DNR to be 'enforcing' it through 2015?
And two weeks ago, the EPA asked the DNR to correct what it said was an inadequate annual list of impaired lakes and rivers by adding 99 bodies of water the state agency failed to include in its original listing.
Such rebukes are rare, said Todd Ambs, who stepped down in 2010 as head of the DNR's water division. "It's really unusual for the EPA to put anything critical in writing, let alone send a 75-point letter," Ambs said.
The court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions. "
A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC.(2)What more do you need to know?
[originally posted, 8:00 p.m., Monday May 7th]