Sunday, April 21, 2013

Little Official Respect For Earth Day In Founder's Wisconsin

Former Wisconsin Governor and US Senator Gaylord Nelson launched Earth Day on April 22nd, 1970, but the current Governor, Scott Walker, would rather pave a wetland than save it.

Walker had been office just a few days before pushing the Legislature to evade an ongoing environmental review and let a Green Bay developer fill a wetland for a destination-sized fishing supply business. Seeing the contradiction and bad publicity ahead, the developer backed out, but Walker had made his point.

Since his inauguration, Walker and his campaign allies - - realtors, road-builders, fossil-fuel sellers and distributors - - have treated open space, Wisconsin's waters and the natural environment as commodities and disposables.

They changed wetlands law to enable encroachment onto shorelines and into rivers and streams.

They cut back spending on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship fund for public access to woods and wetlands by 30%.

They looked the other way as large dairies expand their polluting operations downstream and downwind.

They reduced environmental violations and investigations.

They systematically ignored climate change despite record heat and heavy rain events, and trimmed postings on the Department of Natural Resources' mini-webpage on the subject, with no updates in the last 10 months. 

They ignored the damage to air quality, water tables and natural beauty as frac sand mining has exploded in Western Wisconsin.

And they have hauled out one of the oldest canards in the corporate playbook - - jobs vs. the environment - - to enable a massive iron ore mine dug out of the hills at the headwaters of the Bad River and almost literally on top of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe's rice-growing, water-based reservation along Lake Superior.

If the administration were genuinely concerned about jobs - - and its fumble of a new, private sector-friendly state development corporation Walker chairs, along with Wisconsin's plunge in national growth rankings, indicate planning disregard and incompetence - - it would not have driven wind farm projects and their jobs off the books and out of state.

And Walker would not have sacrificed thousands of rail construction jobs on the federally-financed Madison-Milwaukee Amtrak extension, or the jobs associated with the train assembly plant in a low-income Milwaukee neighborhood cancelled as a result, or the probability of more work for regional high-speed rail construction, procurement and management the feds have centralized in northern Illinois.

Walker initially made and reinforced in his recall campaign a series of bad bets that his budgeted austerity, and its high-end tax cuts and the national recovery would raise his boat and political fortunes, too.

Worse - - along with the national stimulus rail funding he blocked and national health-care funding he has thrown away, too - - Walker reduced middle-class, main street spending and stability through ACT 10 that guaranteed a slowed recovery and deadened growth here.

And his proposed 2013-15 budget will penalize the economy and future generation with big borrowings to fund more highway building. Better to spend a fraction of those billions, hire the unemployed by the thousands and fill every pothole from Ashland to Ephraim to Kenosha to Boscobel.

You can't pave your way to an economic recovery or the preservation of an environment upon which the state's fresh-water based recreational and tourism industries are based.

Which is why Walker won't and can't call honest attention to Earth Day this year.


JTP said...

Outstanding James!

Laurette McGovern said...

Walker and his cronies are the exact antithesis to Earth Day; the sooner the citizens of Wisconsin realize that, the better.

Hypocrisy thy name is rowen said...

If you had one ounce of real concern for the environment you would be exposing the biggest EPA clean water act violators in the state; instead you stick your silly Madison liberal head deeper in the sand.