Tuesday, May 19, 2015

About cutbacks to environmental reviews, WI DNR omits the details

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comment about innocent-sounding "clarifications" to rules and procedures now governing how the agency studies pipeline location, dairy expansion, dam construction and various anti-pollution activities.

Check out this detail-free, bureaucratic gobbledy-gook from the agency included in an emailed news letter today - - 
 "...the proposed rule includes clarifications to procedures for bigger picture strategic policy analysis and specific environmental analysis requirements for individual department actions.
Does that sound like an agency out to inform and gather input it will seriously consider, or an agency out to obfuscate and confound as environmental stewardship in the public interest gets harder to find?

The details of the scope of the DNR's plan are summarized in this recent news story:

The state Department of Natural Resources is coming under fire from conservation groups for retooling a long-standing law that requires the agency to conduct separate environmental reviews for many major projects. 
Some of the changes took effect last year. Others are coming up this month as the agency asks the Natural Resources Board for authority to spell out specific cases where it would no longer conduct the reviews... 
In its latest update, the DNR is expanding the list of "minor actions" that would not require additional environmental analysis. 
They include manure spreading, reconstruction and repair of dams, construction plans for large dairy farms and planning by communities to reduce key pollutants in local waterways. 
Can you say, 'fait accompli?,' given this administration's attack on environmental science, DNR staffing and citizen participation in project evaluation led by Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" senior DNR management and policy direction?

Further note: When this administration says, "minor actions," think the opposite. 

Remember that Scott Walker first described Act 10 as a "modest, modest proposal."

None the less, here are the details of a hearing on the matter, and a method of sending in a comment. Somewhere down the road, an ethically-motivated state legislator, hearing examiner or judge may read your comment, say "Eureka," and rule in your favor against what Walker, Stepp & Co. have in mind on behalf of their corporate/donor/chamber-of-commerce types:
The hearing will start at 10 a.m. on June 2 in Room G09 of the State Natural Resources Building, 101 South Webster St. in Madison.  
Department staff will make a brief presentation on the proposed rule revisions and the rules process prior to opening the public comment portion of the hearing.  
The proposed rule may be reviewed and comments electronically submitted by June 10 at the state's administrative rules web site (exit DNR).


Anonymous said...

There is no reason for ANY reviews at DNR nor anywhere else in the gubbermint. Scott Walker does what God tells him to do. It is a sin against Our Lord to think we can review the directives he gives to Scott Walker.

Anonymous said...

From the Green Bay Press Gazette

At the May 12 meeting of the Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation Committee, several citizens called for the resignation of committee Chairman John Pagel, alleging that his business interests as the owner of a concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) conflicted with the committee’s goals of protecting ground and surface water.


The remarks followed reports by County Supervisor Lee Luft that Pagel had hosted a nonpublished meeting at his Pagel’s Ponderosa Dairy with representatives of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, WDNR, DBA and 14 of the 15 CAFO owners in the county on March 31.

Pagel did not report the meeting to either the County Board or members of the Land and Water Conservation committee at its April meeting. County Board Chairman Ron Heuer also attended the meeting at Pagel’s dairy and did not report it at the county board’s April meeting.

Luft also had expressed concern that County Conservationist Davina Bonness or other members of the Land and Water Conservation Department were not included in the meeting.

“I do think that I can make a difference,” said Pagel, responding to the request for his resignation. “Although I am a farmer, I am concerned about the environment.”


Anonymous said...

Because DNR was at the meeting it qualifies as an open meeting. Was it announced? Would others have been welcome had they showed up? Are there published minutes from this meeting? Are the big farmers throwing the little farmers under the bus?

Anonymous said...

roh roh:

"The Department of Natural Resources asked me to host a meeting for the large farm operators in Kewaunee County, and I accepted. It was their meeting and their agenda."

Letters to the editor: May 23

The Rest of the Story

Some people believe that I have a conflict of interest being a large dairy producer and being chairman of the Land and Water Conservation Committee for Kewaunee County. I have a few comments on that along with some clarification on the article in last week’s paper.

This position is an appointed position by the County Board chairman. This is done along with the other committee positions after you win the election in your district. I was asked to fill this position based on my experience and my commitment to our community.

With this position I am trying to keep Kewaunee Counties farmers in business while taking care of the environment at the same time. There is no reason why we can’t do both. We have a strong county Conservation Department that is energetic and focused on the needs of the county to improve water quality. That means not only for our wells but for our surface waters that we all enjoy with our families too.

We have a county Conservation Committee that supports Davina’s team. The committee works diligently to give Davina’s team the tools they need to get their work done. This type of teamwork creates an action plan that improves the water quality in Kewaunee County.

I’ve been told that I care more about agriculture than I do about the environment. To me they both have to be taken care of for either to be successful. That’s the only way it can work long term.

While the same people continue to personally criticize me, my family and how we operate, I’d like to shed some light on how committed the Pagel family is to our community. My parents were both born in this area. I was the youngest of seven where most of the siblings still reside in Kewaunee County.

My parents bought the farm in 1946. I took over the farm in 1980 and still live in the same farmhouse I was born in 56 years ago. All of my children are involved in the farming operation in different departments, and so are two of the spouses. They have blessed me with 11 grandchildren who go to the Kewaunee school system in which I sit on the school board now for seven years.

They all live nearby and some right across the road from the farm. Why would we try to do anything to the environment that could harm the future of the next generation to be involved in agriculture? I believe this shows that the Pagels are committed to our community.

There were also comments on a meeting held here at the farm and why some people weren’t invited. The Department of Natural Resources asked me to host a meeting for the large farm operators in Kewaunee County, and I accepted. It was their meeting and their agenda.

It turned out to be a great meeting discussing communication between the farmers and the DNR to see how we can all work together to improve the water quality issues in Kewaunee County. Why does someone have to take a successful meeting that works on positive improvement in our community and turn it into something secretive and manipulative?

I could keep writing, but that’s enough info for one article. I’m sure I will be criticized for my article, but I thought you should know where I’m coming from. Till next time.

John T. Pagel


Anonymous said...

I think this is a violation of the open meetings law. The DNR convened a meeting for the purpose of gathering information. They didn't give 24 hours notice or the minimal 2 hours and in fact didn't tell selected people about the meeting at all.