Thursday, September 11, 2014

More WI DNR sickening contempt for science

[Updated, 8: 24 p.m.] Experts of all kinds used to bring their training, advanced degrees, families and professional goals to Wisconsin.

Scientists, lawyers, and public-policy specialists were drawn to Wisconsin principally by the reputation of the state Department of Natural Resources. Rich traditions there merged genuine public involvement with science to guarantee clean air, pure water, and accessible land - - the classic, picture-postcard good life - - in the land of John Muir, Aldo Leopold, and Gaylord Nelson.

And there was a pleasant, cooperative bi-partisan/non-partisan underpinning to it all, as Nelson, a Democrat, and former GOP Governor Warren Knowles worked together to create a land acquisition fund that helped preserve some of the best trails and waterfronts and landscapes in the public domain.

To be passed along to the next generation. A legacy, if you will. The Wisconsin Idea, implemented at the state government end of State St.

But things changed - - devolved and are still heading downhill - - because Scott Walker appointed Cathy Stepp, a developer and agency critic who had famously mocked DNR staffers and scientists, to run the agency with what Walker called her "chamber of commerce mentality."

Sort of like appointing The Marlboro Man to run a state health department.

There have been two noteworthy events of late that stand out among all the examples of newly-weakened DNR regulation, tolerated pollution and disregard for wildlife that highlight the deep contempt for science now demanded at the agency from on-high.

*  First is the science-based request for federal intervention into Wisconsin's uniquely-cruel wolf hunt. Details and documents are here.

*  Second is the twisted DNR award of elite environmental status to a known sand mine permit violator and polluter - - I'd written about the possibility earlier - - but now we learn that the upside-down recognition has been approved.

The message to businesses the DNR already only marginally 'regulates' - -  go ahead and pollute.

To out-of-staters, it's a message from the backwater.

Walker's DNR will paper over your violations of a permit obviously not worth the paper it's printed on it by giving you a big environmental prize.

So just when you think the reputation of the state and the very definition of public service can't get worse in Wisconsin, Walker's people figure out a way to do just that.


Anonymous said...

Cathy Stepp is not interested in "details" like this, because the "chamber of commerce" style of management wants to dramatically reduce the wolf population until it can quietly be eliminated. Hopefully the majority of Wisconsin's citizens will not stand for it.

I suggest Cathy, Matt and Gundy start packing, your days are numbered come November.

Anonymous said...

On 8/27/14 Walker signed emergency rule changes to the Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act narrowing the rights of citizens to petition the government for environmental analysis of projects. The DNR claims that this was correcting redundancies. Midwest Environmental Advocates are not so sure. Seems strange but perfectly in keeping with this DNR that "emergency" rule changes would be required for simple redundant policies. But we all have come to learn the DNR doesn't want the public to have a voice in their actions or activities!

A. Wag said...

Walker may have said "Chamber of Commerce mentality" but he obviously meant "Chamber of Echo" mentality.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin wolf population has increased every year since the DNR re-introduced them during the 80's. I say Cathy Stepp has done a fine job at the DNR.

Anonymous said...

To anon 7:29

The DNR did not "re-introduce" wolves into the state. They didn't do anything other than make life a little easier for them by reducing potential methods of mortality. The wolves were always here, DNR just made it easier for them to survive. Add in the deer population explosion and the wolf story is a success.