Sunday, September 20, 2015

With Walker & DNR, the past is prologue to the moment

The public's right to clean and accessible water in Wisconsin, and the government's failure to guarantee those rights is emerging, regrettably as the top conservation and environmental justice issue in our state.

Underscored by our having learned in the last few weeks that the Department of Natural Resources which Gov. Walker has deeply politicized intends on selling a large parcel of state land - - our land - - that surrounds a cluster of northern Wisconsin trout ponds in Langlade County which feeds other streams downriver - - our waters, public waters - -  and, separately, plans to sell a different parcel of prime shoreline prime public acreage along Rest Lake in Vilas County to a major campaign donor.

Details and links here.
Three events among many highlight the transformation of the DNR under Walker into an ideological and political tool:

*  His appointment to the top DNR post of developer Cathy Stepp  - - a brazen enemy in her own words of the DNR's scientific and conservationist mission - - because she had what Walker called a "chamber of commerce mentality."

Little wonder that pollution inspections and enforcement actions fell precipitously, or that one million-gallon farm manure spill into a creek landed the offender with a $464 fine, or that political-insider strings were pulled at the DNR to ease the consequences for a septic hauler who spread excess human waste on farm fields near well water, or that the DNR is now choosing not to enforce a judge's ruling designed to keep drinking water clean near a big dairy.

*  Walker's administrative suspension of a high-profile DNR permitting process in the earliest days of his first term - - a suspension later bolstered by a bill rushed through the Legislature which Walker signed to legalize and enable the wetland filling - - so a Walker campaign-donor/developer could fill and build a destination outdoors equipment store in a wetland near Lambeau Field.

*  The routing to a conservative advocacy group for the benefit of Walker's 2012 recall campaign of a $700,000 donation from an out-of-state mining company which had hoped to dig a miles-long open-pit iron ore mine across the Penokee Hills and Bad River watershed in Northwest Wisconsin - - to have been enabled by a mining 'reform' bill which Walker backed and signed into law.

Decision-making about public water and land to serve donors and friendly businesses - - including mega-dairies, utilities, road-builders - - and ideologues at the people's expense has been Walker's pattern since the beginning of his administration.


old baldy said...


How about checking into the latest: DNR selling some prime Vilas County frontage to a major donor.. Was on WPR this morning.

James Rowen said...

That sale is linked to or referenced twice in the posting, and was the subject of a separate post Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Wisconsin has turned on Republicans. Listening to the game Sunday there was a radio commercial for a trade union, a sponsor that had a serious thread that they support candidates who stand up for Wisconsin's working men and women, not corporations. I've never heard any sponsor run a political ad that bold.

Anonymous said...

James, while I enjoy your blog, it is a deceptive practice when you "pick and choose" parts of a story to fit a narrative. In regard to the alleged one-million gallon manure spill, the facility was fined $464.10, which is true; however you fail to mention that the facility owners were also required to correct all nonpoint source discharges at the facility as well as clean-up the manure spill and land apply in accordance with a nutrient management plan. The facility owners also had to participate in an enforcement conference with DNR staff, where a list of additional actions were identified in which the facility owners were required to meet, including locating additional land base to land apply all the manure generated at the facility in the future. When an blogger fails to provide a complete and accurate narrative, ones overall integrity comes into question.