Monday, August 10, 2015

Wisconsin's water protections are down the drain

The systematic attack on science, clean air and water managed and protected in the public interest by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began when Scott Walker told us he was appointing Cathy Stepp, a right-wing agency critic and property developer to the agency's top job.

"I wanted someone with a chamber of commerce mentality," he said

It was one of the rare occasions where Walker was completely transparent about what he was planning to, and why, and for whom.

So after his last budget decimated the agency's science foundation, and several bills Walker had backed and signed into law further weakened the DNR's legacy mission, Stepp 'reorganized' the agency. sent key environmental tasks and staffers to a business support division and gave the agency more of the commercial cast Walker and his corporate backers long wanted.

So don't miss reading an informed op-ed in today's Journal Sentinel by Todd Ambs, former head of the now-defunct DNR water division, about what it all means for the state's commonly-owned water:
It was a noble effort, the Water Division in the state Department of Natural Resources. But like many noble conservation efforts in this state, it has been eliminated. 
Lost in all of the organizational charts and memos in the DNR's reorganization is the most basic of reasons behind the changes. What is the mission of the DNR related to our water resources? Is it first and foremost functioning to protect our natural resources or is it now restructuring to better serve the businesses and other "customers" who wish to receive permits that could impair and degrade those water-related natural resources?...
So I get concerned when the name of one of the new Divisions is called Business Support and External Services. The DNR highlights nine alignment goals, and the term "natural resource" is not used once in relation to any of those goals. Yes, the DNR always should be working to issue permits in an efficient and timely manner. But if the driving force behind those permits is simply to issue them as fast as possible, then just move the whole operation to the Department of Regulations and Licensing and skip the pretense of natural resource protection.
Concern over Wisconsin waters was the main reason I began this blog in 2007, and point to a couple of major items here which Ambs, given his expertise and long career in water conservation, makes far better:

Wisconsin Water Crisis 

GOP's ultimate environmental target in Wisconsin is the public trust doctrine

On Earth Day, more of Walker's environmental beat-down

Walker the Destroyer


Ralph said...

Scott Walker should adopt the same water protections that the EPA demonstrated in New Mexico.

my5cents said...

Without clean water and clean air, where does that leave the human race much less all other warm-blooded creatures on the earth? Extinct!