Thursday, April 23, 2015

Early warning: WI Legislature unleashing DNR Stepp's "thinking"

Alberta Darling, co-chair of the legislature's budget writing committee, has just thrown the fate of Wisconsin's Department of Natural Resources, and by extension, the entire state environment into unprecedented jeopardy by giving agency Secretary and corporate servant Cathy Stepp unimaginable power.

Stepp, a former developer, has hated DNR science and regulatory work for years, got the job precisely for that reason, and is overseeing a pro-industry management team that, for example, is fighting the US EPA over cleaner air rules.

Darling, a River Hills Republican, said Stepp, chosen by Walker for her "chamber-of-commerce mentality" - - he said - - would be allowed to propose her own DNR reorganization as the former developer sees fit, adding:
"We're not putting any limitation on (DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp's) thinking," Darling said.
This is not putting the fox in the hen house. This is letting the fox which is already in the hen house to redesign it with extra entry doors for more foxes and other hungrier predators.

One clue to Stepp's thinking: She vented publicly as a partisan when the Legislature initially balked at passing an industry-written open-pit iron mining bill.

The mine proposal has fallen through because, as the critics had accurately pointed out, a giant mine in that location threatened a richly-forested watershed close to Lake Superior and treaty-protected Native American land and water.

She also favored the plan underway to sell 10,000 acres of DNR land, thinks it's good idea to let businesses buy naming rights to state parks and supported neutering the state natural resources policy-making oversight board above her agency - - something even too radical for Darling''s committee which has already nixed it.

And Walker didn't take Stepp's thinking into account on the matter of ending the oversight role of the long-standing policy board - - in fact, he didn't consult her and had it inserted into her budget without her knowledge.

She said.

And only yesterday, on Earth Day, Stepp managed to send out an all-staff email salute without mentioning that 57 of the people who received her missive would receive on the same day a layoff notice.

And here's Stepp's plan to curry favor with one key DNR constituency using a very small and defenseless prop:
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR


Dr. Morbius said...

It literally goes beyond "chamber of commerce" mentality; Strepp is the physical incarnation of Small Town Babbitry. Anyone who thought that iron was about to be commercially mined in northern Wisconsin needed serious medication and intensive therapy. To actively lobby for and expect such a development is just too, too precious. As the price began to slowly erode from the enormous 2011 bubble of $190.00/ton to today's still high $42.00/ton, the familiar spoor of Mining Fever became all too event--hostile recriminations, the search for those responsible for the "loss" of the mine, followed by opportunistic political posturing. But they don't stop; the let's sell it now, let's rent it out, let's see if someone will give us something, anything for it--no matter how tacky or tawdry, just continues. Large, sophisticated corporations do not display anything like the desperate hucksterism of Strepp and her ilk. In the end they will erode the value of these assets with their short-sighted, ham-handed attempts at bolstering revenues and leave the state much worse when they inevitably (and thankfully) depart.

Anonymous said...

Now things are starting to get scary. Who can imagine what brilliant ideas Stepp may come up with?

I guess we haven't seen anything yet.

my5cents said...

What else do you think they would do considering the budget deficit they are facing, tax the rich?

Anonymous said...

Wow more power grabs by "BIG" government that the Republicans have said since gaining power that they were opposed to. We can kiss the environmental part of our state could by along with our educational and economic aspects. Not going to be much left of Wisconsin by the time we vote these goofs out of office in 2016.