Sunday, August 31, 2014

Better Headline: WI DNR Secretary Can Let Those Turtles Die

Talk about living the dream.

(Newer, better headline, 4:00 p.m: WI DNR Secretary Can Let Those Turtles Die)

Remember that Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary and former developer Cathy Stepp got appointed to run (into the ground) what was once a nationally-recognized, pre-eminent environmental agency after her published rant against DNR bureaucrats caught Scott Walker's eye.

Wrote Stepp:

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.
So good news, threatened species' haters - - Stepp can close that "outrageous" circle of misplaced concern by signing off on the bureaucratically-obfuscatory "incidental taking" of several endangered and threatened species - - including more butterflies and wood turtles and rare little insects that are of interest only to stupid scientists - - now her co-workers - - behind what Stepp calls their "cubicle walls."

And for natural gas pipeline construction - - so these species takings [Sic] is something of a win-win for the big-hunt-(hey, elk soon, Bucky - -  once the wolves are shot nearly to extinction)-and-fossil-fuel-gang now running the state and DNR:
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin wildlife officials say a pipeline construction project could kill members of several threatened and endangered species.
Wisconsin Gas LLC wants to construct a new 74-mile natural gas lateral that would run from an existing pipeline in Eau Claire or Clark County to Tomah. The Department of Natural Resources says the project could result in incidental taking of the threatened prairie leafhopper; the endangered phlox moth; the threatened frosted elfin, a type of butterfly; and the threatened wood turtle.
Or as Walker called his brand of environmental stewards - - the "chamber-of-commerce" crowd.

And turtles, you say? Hell, you can get yourself a wolf-kill (the bureaucrats whom Stepp had formerly despised still prefer "harvest") permit for only 49 bucks and run your baying pack of hounds right through wolf dens and known feeding and rendez-vous territories 24/7/365.

An incidental taking is one in which you choose to kill off some plant or animal life, but the killing doesn't go deeply enough into the population, we're assured, to significantly threaten that species' existence.

So incidental is intentional, not accidental.

Sort of like like gunning it and running down - -  I mean, incidentally taking - - a wood turtle crossing the highway, but when you're building the gas line and the turtles are in the way, you don't even have to say, "oops."

Incidental is as incidental does.

But consider that Incidentally taking a few turtles here, then some wolf packs there, and soon 10,000 acres just about anywhere - - even in a Lake Michigan shoreline state park for a fancy-pants golf course, or across an entire watershed for a giant open-pit iron ore mine - - and soon the taking leads to talking about a genuine slippery slope, no?

And we've just seen what happens when the slope indeed gets slippery, despite all the promises by those chamber-of-commerce-friendly regulators:

It didn't get enough publicity in the US, so thanks to long-time La Crosse professor and resources expert Al Gedicks for his op-ed in the Journal Sentinel about a massive mining accident in Canada that experts figured couldn't happen: 
On Aug. 4, more than a billion gallons of mining waste spilled into rivers and creeks from a tailings pond at Imperial Metals' Mount Polley gold and copper mine at the headwaters of the Fraser River watershed in the interior of British Columbia. Indigenous First Nations peoples mostly populate this area. According to the Canadian Broadcasting Co., the volume of the spill would fill 2,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. It is the largest mining disaster in Canadian history.
No word yet if the DNR plans on adding a 'Do Not Respect,' or DNR/DNR list to its incidentally-but-not-accidentally-weakened policies.

If DNR/DNR is awkwardly redundant, then how about a new category: 'Stepped-On.' 

Since Walker claims he's the King of Transparency, why not?


Anonymous said...

The agency is probably the worst state agency when it comes to "pay for play." Donors fear no reprisals from the top people at DNR who run the agency with an iron hand and no dissent is allowed from the rank and file!

Anonymous said...

Actually Steppe and her "chamber of commerce" administrators are just mouth pieces. The decisions are made and written in Walker's office and then passed down the line. Everything that happens in state agencies is first approved in the governor's office. The state employees have very little input and they are not allowed to dissent or heaven forbid voice an objection. Even talking points are provided and spokespeople must stick to the script. That's why DPI is such a point of contention because it has its own elected head. Can one imagine what would have been done to public education if Walker had control of that agency.