And yet the situation is even riskier in Wisconsin on so many fronts these days, as some of the metaphorical stop signs and red lights already in place are being removed for ideological or special-interest driven partisan advantage by the Governor and Legislature, making 'accidents-waiting-to-happen' - - actually predictable events- - potentially more painful.
Such is the likely and totally unnecessary outcome because of the intentional unraveling of state water law, and in related and counter-productive cuts to DNR staffing, science and pollution enforcement - - laws and standards and personnel and goals put in place as traditional and bi-partisan measures to ensure the quality and availability of shared, publicly-owned waters and forested or recreational land.
These laws and standards and operations essential to a democratic society were in the law and on the job because the state's waters - - meaning the people's waters - - are life-giving through their connectivity; allowing and expanding wetland filling, waterway dredging, groundwater pumping and valuable state land selling en masse - - without regard for downstream, cumulative impacts and repercussions to the public interest - - is just plan crazy.
As is the plan which has just zipped through the Assembly and is poised for Senate approval this month to allow out-of-state businesses to buy or lease Wisconsin municipal water and sewer systems with minimal scrutiny.
Current law allows such sales or leases, but only to in-state firms, and after referendums which include the financial terms of the transfer- - processes and policies designed to keep the systems' management and staffing and decision-making as local and accountable to the people as possible.
Call those requirements the stop signs or red lights now reasonably in place - - but the powers that be in and around the State Capitol are willing to let outsiders beholden to profit-focused investors call the shots and make the decisions without having first been required to give an affected community basic system sale or lease financial information in a timely fashion prior to the all-important referendum.
By the same token, we are putting Wisconsin people and the environment at risk by barely staffing freight rail line inspections by workers not in the employ of the companies that set the schedules and own the tracks which run through and over our cities, towns, villages, farms and waters.
There is one such person working full-time for the people statewide while shipments of volatile shale crude oil have been substantially ramped up, and after several events which derailed tanker cars and even spilled hazardous materials in the last few months.
Luckily, the state, and communities in Wisconsin, and close to the WI-MN, and WI-IL border were spared flaming, toxifying catastrophe.
When he was still state railroad commissioner, Jeff Plale told me last year that he'd requested a second full-time rail inspector in the budget eventually adopted in 2015, but instead got a limited-term employee added for part of the year - - akin to addressing a known traffic hazard with a flashing caution light blinking some of the time, instead of a full stop-and-go signal.
And why are our elected officials so continuously assigning danger, deprivation of rights and denial of access to basic, public resources when it comes to controlling or preventing groundwater pollution and manure spreading at and near expanded livestock operations, too - -
when those same officials have the ability to affirmatively put public healthy and safety first?
There's something foul about a democracy in which private benefits are enhanced for the few by socializing the risks at the grassroots.