Friday, August 16, 2013

Will DNR Adopt 'Review-And-Dismiss' To Anti-Mine Comments?

I've been reading on various sites that opponents with comments against the proposed open-pit iron mine in the Bad River watershed up North are outnumbering supporters at a DNR hearing on mine sample removal and testing.

The hearing is part of the mine permit approval process, and its outcome will shed light on how the DNR is assessing public comment and scientific input.

This media report Thursday on the hearing said the record had showed 76 opposed and about six in support.

But what will that 11:1 ratio in opposition mean when the bureaucrats and policy-makers adjourn behind closed doors to assess and implement the opinion?

It reminds me of the many hearings in SE Wisconsin to take public comment about highway expansion, light rail transit and water diversion planning where opposition outweighed support, but the bureaucrats running the hearings and planning process waived off the opponents in follow-up findings with what one planner involved told me his agency privately called "review and dismiss."

Some history with examples, here.

In May of [2008], local water expert Peter McAvoy, an attorney and official at the 16th Street Community Health Clinic, spoke at a meeting of the SEWRPC Environmental Justice Task Force (EJFT) about what he said were inadequacies in the land use plan, and how those inadequacies could affect the usefulness and relevancy of the water study.

Five months later, SEWRPC's then-Executive Director Philip Evenson took up nearly 45 minutes at the October meeting of the EJFT to show a 23-panel PowerPoint presentation specifically produced to rebut McAvoy's remarks. 
Here's another classic - - including information about a highway expansion between Waukesha and Washington Counties approved by the Southeastern Regional Wisconsin Planning Commission - - and still being fought against recalcitrant highway agencies after a Federal Judge said the planning and construction broke federal law - -  though 7,000 people petitioned against it.

And SEWRPC's records show that two-thirds of the more than 300 public comments received during planning for the $6.5 billion regional freeway reconstruction and expansion - - by 127 new lanes, without any new transit capacity - - were in opposition.

Come to Milwaukee to see completed plan segments and others being laid out, as the comments fell on deaf ears.

In truth, "review and dismiss" is just another way of saying that hearings can lapse into manipulated, pro-forma Kabuki theater, with the outcome already dictated by higher-ups, if special interest string-pullers are allowed to be in charge.

Your move, Secretary Stepp.


Anonymous said...

Cathy Stepp will be gone as soon as Scott Walker realizes she's a liability to his presidential aspirations.

James Rowen said...

I don't know about that. To Walker, loyalty and taking heat for the boss is everything. He just gave Cindy Archer a fresh, $100,000-a-year job. Google her.

Anonymous said...

What happens in response to public comment is dependent on the rules. It is possible that the mining rules don't allow DNR to anything more than add conditions to the mining permit. Those conditions must be able to survive a legal challenge. Don't blame the bureaucrats, blame the legislators and corporate lawyers who wrote the bill in such a way as to insure that a permit will be issued.