Wednesday, May 2, 2012

No Benefit Of The Doubt To Walker On Environmental Protection

A year ago, the Journal Sentinel suggested that Scott Walker's plan to 'streamline' and remake the DNR deserved the benefit of the doubt.

Gov. Scott Walker's plan to streamline the state Department of Natural Resources is a good idea - as long as it doesn't weaken environmental protections.

I disagreed.  Because that's not the way Walker and his corporate crowd rolls.
I think Walker gave up the right to that benefit when he sprang his plan to wipe out public employee bargaining on an unsuspecting electorate - - a move that the paper said would have cost Walker the election had he been forthcoming about that plan during the campaign.

Did Walker indicate during the campaign that he had such a radical plan in mind for the DNR - - (here is a DNR draft leaked to me that lays it out) - - and that he intended to do it through Executive Order, and not via legislation that might have led to hearings, and input from the public?

Not that I recall. Though he did accuse opponent Tom Barrett of harboring a radical environmental agenda - - a feint that suggests that Walker had something up his sleeve.

The newspaper remains committed to Walker, and to his jobs-creating focus, so I understand why the editorial board, even with its pro-environment caveats, would line up with Walker on this issue.

But given Walker and this legislature's related actions or plans - - giving Walker more power over administrative rules, cutting back on wetlands' filling permission processes, rushing the Gogebic mine to permitting, and other matters - - he even chose not to acknowledge Earth Day 2011, though doing so as a tribute to former Gov. Gaylord Nelson would have been appropriate, even classy - - I think environmental protections and public input into decision-making is already headed for the back seat.

Walker did not hand-pick staff and officials from the WMC, the road-builders and other special interests to regulate at the DNR. They were put there to de-regulate.

The DNR's reductions in clean air and water enforcement actions under Stepp's leadership [Sic] at Walker's behest proves that they did not and do not deserve out trust when it comes to environmental protections.

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