Tuesday, February 17, 2015

At WI DNR, an Orwellian feint towards cleaner air

[Updated] The Wisconsin DNR emails to subscribers a weekly clean air tip. 

It's usually something superficial like '4th of July fireworks air pollution dissipates quickly,' or 'don't idle your engine, vary your commute schedule!' - - while the agency helps fight federal clean air rules - - and today's is par for the course: 

A reminder that you can sign up for email alerts about pollution in the air.
Air Quality Advisories can occur year-round in Wisconsin. Though cold winter temperatures suppress ground-level ozone formation in our state, fine particle pollution can be found all year long. Visit DNR's particle pollution web page to learn more, or sign-up to receive notices when an Air Quality Advisory is called in your area. You can also follow DNR on Twitter [exit DNR] and receive Advisory messages there.
But before you say, "thank you for your help and concern, chamber-of-commerce-mentality DNR," did you know that the DNR's air quality early warning system used to have two stages, including "watches" when conditions were favorable to the build-up of hazardous, invisible pollutants - - much like first-stage violent weather watches - - and that Walker and his big business insiders at the DNR eliminated that first stage in March, 2011?

In other words, when the DNR issues an air quality advisory these days, it had known for some that those conditions harmful to people with asthma and heart disease were ripening, but has chosen not to publicize the information at the earliest stage possible.

I quoted a DNR document about this in a posting here almost four years ago: 
The politicization of the DNR is off the charts - - literally - - as Wisconsin is now open for air pollution less publicized.  One of two notification systems - - the "watch," akin to weather "watches" that precede storm warnings, is being ended, says the agency in an email - - so if you have asthma, for example, you won't know the air conditions are favorable to constrict your breathing until you are already on your way to your destination.
Remember that Pat Stevens, a lawyer who worked for the road-builders, home-builders and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce,  is now managing the agency's air quality section.
This is the email text sent Friday morning and it comes on the heels of another cutback at the DNR to make business happy - - reducing OWI enforcement on snowmobilers in the North Woods: 
As of March 15, 2011, the Wisconsin DNR will no longer issue Air Quality Watches for ozone and particle pollution due to limited staff resources and the potential increase in the number of air quality notices under proposed revisions to federal air standards.
In the past, an air quality watch was issued when conditions were favorable for pollutants to reach unhealthy levels. 
Watches are also being eliminated due to their confusion with Air Quality Advisories which are issued when pollution concentrations actually reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.
Air quality notices are issued as a public service by the DNR in partnership with the National Weather Service. They are not mandated by rule or law.
The DNR will continue to issue Air Quality Advisories when ozone and particle pollution levels are over or expected to reach the federal air quality standard...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We were warned when 52% said that Walker should continue to destroy WISCONSIN!