Saturday, January 18, 2020

Despite brutal weather, WI GOP legislature won't release homeless aid

[Update: The National Weather Service's posted this warning Saturday evening: "This Hazardous Weather Outlook is for portions of east central Wisconsin, south central Wisconsin and southeast Wisconsin....Tonight Wind chill advisory in effect this evening as wind chills are expected to fall to 15 below to 25 below zero late tonight into Sunday morning."]

Just a reminder that the GOP-run legislative budget committee
Alberta Darling at Ann Romney rally.JPG
Budget committee Co-Chair State Sen. Alberta Darling, (R-River Hills)
refuses to release more than $3 million in homeless assistance, noted here, despite these just-updated, single-digit and below-zero weather conditions, per WTMJ TV-4 (percentages reflect precipitation prediction):
14°
  

Cloudy / Windy
feels like -5° 35° / 31°



Saturday
Wintry Mix Snow / Sleet
35° / 31°
 90%

Sunday
Fair / Mostly Sunny
11° / 2°
 0%

Monday
Fair / Mostly Sunny
14° / -2°
 0%

Tuesday
Partly Cloudy
21° / 3°
 10%

Glenn Grothman's selective embrace of diversity, religious tolerance

Glenn Grothman - - 
Glenn Grothman official congressional photo.jpg
- - had a lot to say in a constituent newsletter emailed Saturday about diversity and religious tolerance.

I'll post some excerpts below, and while I am not challenging his sincerity, I do find it undermined by his earlier public disparagement of Kwanzaa, excerpted here.

Here's a reminder from this blog posted in 2017 that dates to 2012:
...it's hard to chalk up the reported rant against Kwanzaa by State Sen. Glenn Grothman, (R-West Bend), to anything other than gross ignorance and intolerance:  
Calling it a holiday that "almost no black people today care about," state Sen. Glenn Grothman is characterizing Kwanzaa as a false holiday conjured up by a racist college professor and perpetuated by hard-core liberals.
"Why must we still hear about Kwanzaa?" the Republican lawmaker from West Bend asked in a press release. "Why are hard-core left wingers still trying to talk about Kwanzaa — the supposed African-American holiday celebration between Christmas and New Year’s?" 
Here's a fuller account
Senator Glenn Grothman calls for Kwanzaa to be “slapped down”
Grothman, a Republican lawmaker from West Bend issued the press release during the week of Kwanzaa, calling it a "supposed African-American holiday celebration between Christmas and New Year's..."Dr. Karenga is a racist separatist who wanted to destroy the country in 1966." 
In 2014, while making his successful run for US Congress, a reporter asked Grothman how he knew that few black people cared about Kwanzaa. 
...he [Grothman] told me that he had "polled 20 black people at random" at airports in Los Angeles and Phoenix.
So with that in mind, you can take in some of his newsletter's text:
Religious Freedom 
Over 230 years ago on January 16, the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, authored by Thomas Jefferson, passed the Virginia General Assembly. For this reason, since 1993, every President of the United States has issued a proclamation to designate January 16 as Religious Freedom Day. Religious Freedom Day not only commemorates the passage of the Virginia Statue for Religious Freedom, but calls our nation to forever protect the unalienable right to religious freedom for all people.

Many of America's first settlers came to the United States to flee religious persecution. That is why our Founding Fathers sought to create a nation in which individuals and families could practice their chosen religion freely, without government interference. Like our Founding Fathers, I believe it is vital to ensure that all Americans enjoy the right to exercise their chosen religion. Tragically, those that would prefer an America where prayers are only spoken in private, school children grow up ignorant of the basic facts of various religions and militant special interest groups can force individuals to violate their conscience in the name of false tolerance, are gaining strength in our society.


Still, there is hope for the preservation of religious freedom in the United States. In honor of Religious Freedom Day 2020, nine federal agencies under President Donald Trump's leadership enacted rules to safeguard the constitutional rights of religious organizations. These rules will provide for the undue defense of First Amendment freedoms, the removal of regulatory burdens on faith-based institutions and the establishment of programs that ensure religious organizations are treated fairly in all circumstances. There are also provisions to ensure that religious and non-religious organizations receive equal consideration when applying for federal grants. With these rules, preserving the right to religious liberty in Wisconsin's Sixth District and throughout our great nation is more than possible.


I am thankful that the Trump Administration continues to work to maintain the integrity of our Constitution’s guarantee of religious liberty for you and your family. Likewise, I will always fight to protect your right to religious freedom in Congress. Ultimately, it is my hope that the religious freedom that our country was founded on endures for every generation to come....


Knights of Columbus
While many people claim we live in a society that embraces diversity and tolerance, prejudice and bigotry remain towards certain groups of people. For example, Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI), at the end of 2018, used their official roles to try to bring down a judicial nominee for being a member of the Knights of Columbus. Likewise, similar statements attacking the Knights have arose [Sic] from my fellow Members of Congress....

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Ron Johnson again plays the demagogue. And a sweet insider's hand.

Our Trump-loving senior Senator serves up a special blend of hypocrisies, red-baiting and self-interest :

"I'm not a socialist," says the Wisconsin GOP pol in his tenth year enjoying millions of dollars annually in publicly-paid salary, free travel, staff budgets, and access to other perks obscure and treasured:
Federal legislators are permitted to park for free at Reagan National, in garages and lots used by passengers. Records obtained by the I-Team under the Freedom of Information Act show members of Congress used the free parking benefit hundreds of times in 2015, costing taxpayers more than $132,000. 
"While it may not seem like a major perk, it is still one of the coveted benefits of being a member of Congress," said David Williams of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance.
And had run a private business (in which he retains some interests) which twice received millions in publicly-subsidized low-interest loans.

And which also received a public grant to build a rail line to the business:
...a separate $75,000 federal grant...went to the company that was the precursor to Pacur. Wisconsin Industrial Shipping Supplies Inc. received the money in 1979 to build a railroad line to the company, which was renamed Pacur several months later.
And let's not forget Johnson's more recent vote
Ron Johnson, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
that saved Trump's tax 'reform' plan after a successful bargaining stance which The Washington Post had framed this way:
Sen. Johnson is a ‘no’ on the tax bill. He says it hurts businesses (like his own).
And throw in his empathy-free penchant for cruelty and you've got a worthy competitor to tail-gunner Joe McCarthy as Worst Wisconsin Senator, Ever. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Wisconsin's GOP styling is shifting to slapstick

We're told repeatedly that Wisconsin voting will be the big national 2020 political story, but here's something else that will happen in these parts when the victors are sworn in:

Glenn Grothman - - the expert on everything from Kwanzaa to snake populations to caulk-it-yourself well protection near massive underground blasting sites - - will be after Sensenbrenner's retirement the senior Wisconsin Republican in the US House of Representatives, assuming he keeps on winning the gerrymandered district his party has handed him as a forever present.


And, sure, the cachet is mostly ceremonial, but what does it tell us about the way words like "Wisconsin" and "leaders" fit together in contemporary journalism and policy-making?

And if Grothman is Larry, 
a cheesier trio that further devalues Wisconsin's reputation and representation could be filled out by Tiffany and Fitzgerald, as their recent Pants-on-Fire antics, here - - 
 Tiffany claimed federal regulation of the wolf population has led to attacks on livestock, driving down production, leading to dairy farms going out of business. 
Our definition for Pants on Fire is "the statement is not accurate and makes a ridiculous claim." That fits here.
- - and, separately and simply shamefully contemptuous, here - - 
WI GOP State Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald has made his most important public appearance ever. Screenshots don't do justice

to the arrogance of his outrage, but the video posted by Madison TV station NBC15 of Fitzgerald's contemptuous, cowardly adjournment in mere seconds of a special legislative session called to debate better citizen protections against gun violence will live forever as 'How a Bill Does Not Become a Law.'
 - - make them perfect representatives of the a cartoonish Republican Trumpian Party.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Kletzsch Park riverbank project remains stalled

It's a pleasure to report that Kletzsch Park and Milwaukee River preservationists are being heard by the Milwaukee County Board.

You may remember that the County had proposed changes to the park in Glendale which would have included building a fish passage viewing stand on the river's west bank, thereby threatening historic oak trees

and a nearby Indian prairie land, as local author and activist Martha Bergland has written:
Remnants of Indian Prairie and the feeling of this sacred and ceremonial place remain today. To Indian people whose land all of this was, Kletzsch Park/Indian Prairie was and still is a special place. In Indian Prairie, and at two other places in the Milwaukee River watershed, early inhabitants constructed pairs of huge cross mounds. Four great intaglio effigies found no where else in the world were constructed in Indian Prairie.... 
In 1850 Menomini people lived in villages near today’s Good Hope Island. Through periodic burning, they maintained the oak savanna, remnants of which still exist as the bur oaks along the river. They came here to build conical mounds from the varied and rare soils still found in Kletzsch Park. They came to tend garden beds of which traces still exist. They forded the river in the shallows at Good Hope Island. They tended fish traps in the river. They witnessed sturgeon spawning in the shallows. A morning’s walk away were the berries of the lake shore forest, the wild rice beds of the river mouths, and myriad ducks and geese.
Though the county-led Kletzsch Park project team is trying to improve river health and access — and these are worthy goals —they are ignoring the feel of the place and the history of the place. They don’t know what they’ve got and they won’t till it’s gone. Just as good medicine strives to treat the whole being without causing harm, so should fish passage promote the area’s whole complex ecology without harming the trees and the bank.
Months of opposition and education had convinced the County to leave the oaks alone - - though as Bergland points out, the area is an inter-connected-and-dependant whole - - so the projected harm to the riverbank and the Indian Prairie still faced strong and informed grassroots objections. 

Details of the opponents comprehensive position can be found here.

After the Milwaukee County Board's Committee on Parks, Energy and the Environment tabled the measure in December, opponents had planned to make their case again at the Committee's next meeting on January 28th.

Now you can find something else to do with your time and energy that day.

Committee chair Supervisor Jason Haas informed the opponents by email that the project remains tabled because "it will not see approval in its current form, [therefore] I do not plan to spend any more time considering it at committee."


So - - this is good news - - because the longer a project remains tabled by local elected officials, the better the odds that project will not happen, at least in its current form.

Call it a case study in Organizing 101.

MN mine permit nixed. Look closely for the WI connections.

Cathy Stepp is leaving her Midwest EPA managerial position while loyal sidekick Kurt Thiede inherits a Minnesota mining permit mess that's getting stickier.

Begin with big environmental news on Monday from Minnesota as reported in the Duluth News-Tribune, here.
Court of Appeals reverses key PolyMet permits, orders DNR to hold contested-case hearing
The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday reversed key mining permits for PolyMet, the company trying to open the state's first copper-nickel mine.
In a 36-page decision released Monday morning, the court sent the dam safety permits and permit to mine awarded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource to PolyMet in late 2018 back to the DNR and said the agency must hold a contested case hearing, which would require an administrative law judge to examine additional evidence and testimony on the project. Then, with information from the contested-case hearing in hand, the DNR must decide whether to reissue the permits. 
But nearly at the bottom of a more-than-20-paragraph story, there are these important few lines - -
Separately, PolyMet's national pollutant discharge elimination system, or NPDES, permit, which regulates water discharged from industrial activities, remains on hold after an August order by the Minnesota Court of Appeals after it was revealed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency requested the Environmental Protection Agency refrain from commenting on a PolyMet draft water permit until the public comment period ended.
And at final highlighted "refrain from commenting," we see this - - 
EPA Union: Leaked email from MPCA [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency] suppressed EPA's PolyMet concerns
The American Federation of Government Employees Local 704, which represents the EPA’s Region 5 employees in Minnesota, sent news organizations a copy of an email sent by then-MPCA Assistant Commissioner Shannon Lotthammer to EPA Region Chief of Staff Kurt Thiede on May 13, 2018. In the email, Lotthammer asked Thiede and the EPA to wait on commenting on a PolyMet draft permit until the public comment period ended....
“By asking EPA to submit its comments after the public comment period, in whatever form, MPCA was attempting to suppress those comments from public review,” Nicole Cantello, president of AFGE Local 70, said in a news release accompanying the leaked email. “This suppression is completely inappropriate and allowed those comments to remain secret.”
The Kurt Thiede referenced is the same Kurt Thiede just appointed to lead the EPA's Region 5 office after his boss, former WI DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp 

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
announced her resignation from the EPA a few days ago. 

I'd noted the uproar over the Minnesota mine and the manipulation of the comment process in a recent post about how Trump's EPA was upending clean water protections:
Consider this piece about the Boundary Waters mining permit: 
Stepp’s chief of staff, Kurt Thiede, who previously worked for her in Wisconsin, was asked in the Minnesota review to stall submitting written comments from the EPA on the proposed mine until after the period for submitting public comments had ended. That move in effect made those comments secret until environmental groups sued....
Kevin Pierard, a senior official in the EPA’s Chicago office, told Minnesota regulators that the proposed permit didn’t have numeric limits on how much pollution could be in discharges from the mine. He also said the discharges would exceed federal health and aquatic life standards for mercury, copper, arsenic, cadmium and zinc.
Pierard’s comments were read over the phone to Minnesota regulators so they wouldn’t appear in the official record, a move former EPA attorney Jeffry Fowley said was “seriously improper conduct.” Fowley said the permit is “an end-run around the … requirements of the Clean Water Act.”
Bottom line: Stepp is headed for Missouri while Thiede could be settling into an even more fraught election-season hot seat. This report by journalist Gary Wilson sets the table for Midwest and national writers: 
A change in leadership at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Great Lakes office in Chicago won’t change the agency’s direction. 
That was affirmed last week by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in a letter to EPA staff obtained by Great Lakes Now. Wheeler’s letter announced that Kurt Thiede will replace Cathy Stepp as EPA Region 5 administrator.



Monday, January 13, 2020

The good news/bad news about Evers and a pending PSC pick

So here's the deal: A Walker appointee is leaving the PSC, and Evers gets to name the replacement.

However:

Fitzgerald is running for Congress.
Wisc Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.jpg
An Evers appointment would give him a 2-1 majority on the Commission.

But...Fitzgerald's GOP-run State Senate must confirm the nominee.

That body under Fitzgerald's tight control has already fired one Evers' acting cabinet secretary who irked some forever-Walker Republicans and their special interests, and has held up confirmation hearings on many others.

So unless Evers appoints Oil Baron von Lobbyguy, expect Fitzgerald to keep playing a bad losers perpetually partisan game rather than doing his routine civic duty.


Sunday, January 12, 2020

A 'ho-hum' state should give its architects the heave-ho

Cap Times Editor Emeritus Dave Zweifel nails what the GOP has done to Wisconsin:
So now we live in what I call a ho-hum state. Our big businesses get most of what they want — more loopholes, lax regulation, income tax credits. As a result, we've fallen from the days we were once called a "shining star" among state governments to just another member of the pack.
I've used the term "backwater" to describe where we're at, and why - - here and here, for example - - 
Walker, WI GOP backwater boosters ahead of curve
and more recently, here:
Vos & Fitzgerald like their backwater state
This one-party governing-by-cruelty-and-obstruction will keep Wisconsin in the grip of petty hacks and business bellhops smugly content to keep the state stuck in a backwater while the country moves ahead.
Call it the elitism of the mediocre, a win for the dullest, lowest common denominator.
Electric vehicles are on their way in big numbers: the GOP can't think of anything to do about that except adding extra fees on electric and hybrid cars and resisting broad expansion of charging stations. 
Vos and Republicans bear heavy responsibility for blocking regional transit authorities and killing passenger rail in southern Wisconsin big populations centers. These legislators, willing captives of the road-builders and fossil-fuel interests, don't have to care about transit: the Legislature covers their mileage to and from the Capitol in per-diem payments established by leadership, and pays for their driving around their districts, too.
And as a party, Republicans have been between disinterested in and hostile to solar and wind power, again sending a message to younger workers, families and entrepreneurs that this is the wrong place to put down stakes.
Only a backwater state will say 'yes' to assault weapons and 'no' to transit and green energy, but that's the way Vos and Fitzgerald like it because they've figured out a way to keep their hands on the controls.
Back to Zweifel, as the clear conclusion to his column - -  
Wisconsin did succeed in getting rid of Scott Walker — at least for now. But a new governor with a Legislature that continues to thumb its nose while the rest of the country passes by can't do it alone. - - 
- - is that a turnaround lies with voters come election time. 
Zweifel says Vos and his GOP allies have made Wisconsin a "ho-hum state." The answer is to give them the 'heave-ho.'




Saturday, January 11, 2020

Milwaukee's Lake Michigan infrastructure is taking a (predicted) pounding

I'm reposting a climate change blog item from June 8, 2008 with origins from 2003, along with some current photos of Lake Michigan storm damage along the Milwaukee lakefront over the last few weeks.

My point is to show that experts' suggestions that municipalities upgrade their infrastructure to meet a changing climate have gone largely ignored.
-----------------------------
SUNDAY, JUNE 8, 2008

In 2003, EPA Predicted Heavier Rain Events 
Then-Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist and I attended a Great Lakes leaders' conference hosted in Chicago in December, 2003. It was hosted by then-Mayor Mayor Richard Daley to hear a presentation officials from the US EPA tell Midwestern elected leaders that climate change models predicted heavier rain events. 
The EPA officials were urging the Midwestern leaders to adapt their planning and spending to more aggressively confront storm water and related services because heavier, intense rains were going to be come more frequent.  
Part of the message was: forget the notion of the "100-year-storm." They'll come more often than that in the Midwest as the atmosphere warms. 
Again - - this wasn't advocacy science or partisan scare tactics. 
This was basic municipal planning/dollars-and-sense advice from people in the George W. Bush administration to Midwestern mayors offered as an inter-governmental service because climate change was going to hit cities' budgets and constituents in difficult new ways. 
The EPA officials had it all in a very clear and informative power point format - - which I requested, and was assured was coming - - but it never did, and I left the Mayor's staff in January 2004 and didn't make a federal case out of not receiving it. 
Now I wish I had.  
----------------------------------------------------------------- 
Here's what a County-owned parking lot behind Moosa's restaurant at North Point on the lakefront looked like on December 19, 2019 after stormy weather.


And here's what the lakefront in the same area looks like Saturday after overnight rain and wind. Moosa's restaurant at North Point is in that distant grove of trees in the first photo just past the south end of Bradford Beach, while the flooded area in the second photo is just north of the beach.


Friday, January 10, 2020

Walker's legacy: polluted waters, thriving CAFOs, failing smaller farms

The measurable and more broadly indelible runoff from Scott Walker's tenure makes him the worst Wisconsin public official for the land, rural living and public health. 

Walker's one-dimensional and special interest-driven agendas were embedded in policy and law by his GOP legislative enablers - - read their own words, here - - and were also summed up in several unapologetically transparent admissions of shameless, entitled arrogance that included:


1. Walker's justification of putting the former McDonald's restaurant manager Cathy Stepp in charge of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

"I wanted someone with a chamber-of-commerce mentality, Walker said.'"
2. Stepp's snarky, snotty public contempt for the agency she led until Trump topped her for top regional positions at the EPA - - words since deleted, but copied out here:
For example, people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA. 
So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with... 
 3. Stepp's subsequent further dismissal of the DNR's value and role
DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp, a former homebuilder, recalled at one agency listening session how an employee told her that “clean air and clean water, that those were our customers. And I said, ‘Well, the last time I checked, they don’t pay taxes and they don’t sign our paychecks.’“
4. The list of demands for ground-water control by private interests during the Walker-Stepp years that was hand-delivered by business groups to legislators' State Capitol desks:
...its bold-faced language and the weighty array of powerful logos at the top tell the story:
An urgent communication to all Wisconsin legislators 
We are at a crossroads. It is imperative that the legislature assert its authority and bring certainty and sanity to the regulation of new and existing high capacity wells in Wisconsin. 
And..
However, we cannot accept any legislation that would create new, stifling regulations or establish regulatory uncertainty as to how DNR and the state will approach new well applications moving forward.  
Among the public consequences or all this neglect, benign and otherwise.

* Record dairy farm failures.

Wisconsin Loses 818 Dairies in 2019, Largest Decline in State History
As of Jan. 1, 2020, Wisconsin had 7,292 licensed dairy farms. On Jan. 1, 2019, the number stood at 8,110. In the last decade, the state lost 5,637 dairy farms, a decrease of 44%. That also suggests the rate of dairy farmer loss has more than doubled the last few years.
* Skyrocketing waterway pollution, according to continually updated DNR records: 
...in the 2018 list
In the proposed 2018 list update, DNR proposes to add 240 242 new water segments. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. Thirty-five water bodies are proposed to be delisted. 
...the cumulative numbers in these reports which encompass most of Walker's tenure show the addition of 804 newly listed polluted waterways to the "more than 700" cited in 2012.
The additions, 804, outpaced deletions, 96, by a ratio of more than eight-to-one, and leaves Walker with about double what he inherited.
Furthermore:
DNR web page last updated in 2015 says the causes of these impairments are known, and the implications are serious.
Impaired waters in Wisconsin are affected by a variety of pollutants. The top three are: mercury, total phosphorus and sediment... 
3. Multiple, repetitive stories about residential well water pollution in Kewaunee County, and the central sands region, and, of late, in Southwest Wisconsin.
Tests: More Wisconsin wells contaminated with fecal matter
So about that 'chamber of commerce mentality' as a guide to public policy, let me leave you with a few more reminders:

* The successful push by the statewide chamber of commerce to eliminate an environmental review for the very-troubled-and-heavily-subsidized Foxconn project:

One of the basic methods for the state to do its water trustee job as the constitution requires for each and every person in the state when a development proposes disrupting or harming state/public waters is through a site study called an Environmental Impact Statement to provide facts for the best blueprint to inform the smartest construction work legally possible.
But a spokesman for the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce testified at the hearing Thursday that the group supported a controversial item in the Foxconn package as proposed - - no surprise - - by Gov. Walker that would exempt the massive, precedent-setting project's construction construction and operation  from having an Environmental Impact Statement prepared, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Lucas Vebber, general counsel and director of environmental policy at business lobbying group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, told the committee that environmental impact statements were "burdensome" and "essentially a book report.”
* Speaking of which:
A flood of Foxconn flooding headlines
* In July, 2018, this blog said this
4th IL agency concerned with flooding opposes Foxconn environmental waivers
* In September, 2018, this blog said this
See flooding off Foxconn site. Heads up, downstream!
 

* In September, 2018, this blog also said this:

Foxconn flooding poured downstream to mainstream media; 3 takeaways
* In March, 2019, this blog said this:
Why N. IL is nervous about Foxconn, wetland filling
Here is one blog post with 31 months of Foxconn items
A Foxconn Fever Primer. 
* And finally, don't forget the high-profile wetland-filling permits issued by the DNR to major businesses during Walker's tenure - - permit which have been reversed by judges over inadequacies and other shortcomings, including:

A permit for the controversial Kohler golf course near Sheboygan:

The Friends of the Black River Forest had challenged a 2018 DNR decision that found the loss of just under 4 acres of sensitive wetlands and shoreline forest was acceptable under state law, if protective steps were taken. 
But Administrative Law Judge Mark F. Kaiser said the agency failed to follow state requirements for projects involving wetlands loss, and that the steps taken by Kohler to assuage the losses were inadequate. 
A permit to fill rare wetlands in Monroe County to facilitate the operation of a proposed frac sand mine:
In 2017, the DNR issued a wetland fill permit despite objections — obtained by WPR through an open records request — that showed staff felt pressured to approve the permit despite what staff called a lack of basic information from the company about how it would mitigate the wetland destruction. 
The Ho-Chunk Nation, Midwest Environmental Advocates and Clean Wisconsin challenged the DNR’s permit through a contested case hearing and in May of 2018, an administrative law judge overturned the Meteor Timber permit saying the agency lacked important information and didn’t prove it could mitigate the loss of the rare wetlands.







Manure from CAFO runs into St. Croix River region waters

This blog documents the impacts of CAFOs in Wisconsin on public health, residential wells and surface waters.

Regrettably, the reporting is repetitive and consequential.


This time, the contamination from Emerald Sky Dairy, a large cattle feeding operation hit the St. Croix River watershed, as St. Croix 360 is reporting.

Factory farm runoff contaminates creek in St. Croix River watershed, killing fish
Manure from CAFO in Willow River region flowed off field where it had been spread.
“This is fourth time in less than four years that the Wisconsin DNR has been involved with improper spreading or spills at Emerald Sky Dairy,” said Virginia Drath, a resident of Emerald. “What will it take to change their behavior? Are the fines not large enough to impact their practices? This is so frustrating for neighbors to see violation after violation and nothing changes.” 


Dead minnows found in Hutton Creek downstream of the manure spill. (WI DNR photo)