Monday, June 18, 2012

Recall In The Bag, Radical Rule Changes Sought By DNR

Cathy Stepp, ID'd by Scott Walker as his "chamber of commerce mentality" Department of Natural Resources Secretary, is fresh off the recall with a Natural Resources Board agenda filled with more radical plans, including:

* Ending DNR rules that restrict some mercury discharges, hunting in the Horicon wildlife refuge and other matters deemed "obsolete."

*  Shooting coyotes during the deer gun season.

*  Pursuing a sandhill crane hunting season, and scheduling for discussion a rationale - - crop damage - - that the original legislative sponsor had told the agency was not his concern.

And while these initiatives are being pushed to the forefront, or even considered under so-called "emergency" rule-making authority, the DNR is dragging the agency's feet complying with 75 clean water-policy "deficiencies" the US Environmental Protection Administration told the DNR in an unusually tough letter last year to fix.

As the public-interest law firm Midwest Environmental Advocates framed it on July 29, 2011:

...the EPA has issued a letter to the DNR that points out the agency’s “numerous apparent omissions and deviations between Wisconsin’s current statute and [Clean Water Act] requirements.” The EPA is requiring that the “omissions and corrected quickly”, and that the state prove it has “adequate authority” to rectify the program’s problems or provide a plan to establish the required authority.
The EPA said the DNR should make those water program repairs in two years , but Stepp told the EPA in writing that her agency's rule-making takes 31 months from start to finish - - unless, of course, Stepp wants to use available, fast-tracking processes.

All these issues are covered on the Natural Resources Board agenda for the upcoming, June 27th meeting, here.

Stepp's letter to the EPA is included at the end of item 4.

  1. Scope Statements
    1. Request approval of the statement of scope for Board Order SS-04-12 related to Invasive Species (Mindy Wilkinson, Invasive Species Coordinator, 5 minutes)
    2. Request approval of the statement of scope for Board Order FH-10-12, revisions to NR 25 relating to commercial fish harvest limits for bloater chubs and other species in Lake Michigan (William Horns, Great Lakes Fisheries Specialist, 5 minutes)
    3. Request approval of the statement of scope for Board Order WM-15-12 and Emergency Board Order WM-16-12(E) relating to coyote hunting during firearm deer season (Scott Loomans, Wildlife Regulations Specialist, 5 minutes)
    4. Informational update on the department's schedule for responding to the U.S. EPA letter dated July 18, 2011 regarding water program inconsistencies (Russ Rasmussen, Water Division Deputy Director, 10 minutes)
    5. Request approval of the statement of scope for Board Order WT-11-12, to revise Chapter NR 106 related to expression of limits for in wastewater permits for chloride, ammonia, and other pollutants. (Russ Rasmussen, Water Division Deputy Director, 5 minutes)
    6. Request approval of the Statement of Scope for Board Order WT-12-12, to revise chapters NR 106, 200, 205, 210 and 220 through 296 related to wastewater technology based limits, BMPs, procedures, and other limits (Russ Rasmussen, Water Division Deputy Director, 5 minutes)
    7. Request approval of the Statement of Scope for Board Order WT-13-12, to revise chapters NR 200, 201, 203, and 205 related to wastewater permit processing and other permit procedural matters (Russ Rasmussen, Water Division Deputy Director, 5 minutes)
    8. Request approval of the Statement of Scope for Board Order SS-14-12, to revise Chapter NR 219, Wis. Admin. Rule - Analytical Test Methods and Procedures to ensure that the state's regulations are consistent with federal regulations (Russ Rasmussen, Water Division Deputy Director, 5 minutes)
Also: the agency's plans to eliminate some rules in the name of pro-business ideology, or to speed along the crane hunt, are covered in this portion of the agenda:

  • Information Items

    1. Air, Waste, and Water/Enforcement
      1. DNR Retrospective Review of Rules Impacting Small Business (Eileen Pierce, Small Business Ombudsman, 15 minutes)
    2. Land Management, Recreation, and Fisheries/Wildlife
      1. Cranes and Crop Damage (Kent Van Horn, DNR Migratory Bird Specialist, and Jeb Brazen, International Crane Foundation Director of Field Ecology, 30 minutes)


    Unknown said...

    I recently spoke with a WDNR employee who told me that they were specifically told that they were to "look busy" but not actually do anything about responding to the EPA. When I asked if this order came from Stepp I was told "higher than that". And that care was made to leave no email trail on this.

    James Rowen said...

    I am sure the plan is to help defeat Obama and count on a more conservative GOP administration to dismantle the EPA.

    hankdog said...

    Don't make too much out of the change in hunting coyotes during deer season. The law was in place to protect the growing wolf population when the program first started. It only applies in the northern part of the state. And with the proposed wolf hunting season, does it really matter?

    Tim said...

    It appears a word, "Sandhill" perhaps, was whited out in the subject line of the Cranes agenda item...