Saturday, February 6, 2016

Wi spreads the manure, along with multiple public risks

We've all read the stories: The stop sign or light at a dangerous intersection is put in after the tragic collision - - despite pleas and warnings to officials who were too busy or had other, urgency-free priorities.

And yet the situation is even riskier in Wisconsin on so many fronts these days, as some of the metaphorical stop signs and red lights already in place are being removed for ideological or special-interest driven partisan advantage by the Governor and Legislature, making 'accidents-waiting-to-happen' - - actually predictable events- -  potentially more painful.

Such is the likely and totally unnecessary outcome because of the intentional unraveling of state water law, and in related and counter-productive cuts to DNR staffing, science and pollution enforcement  - - laws and standards and personnel and goals put in place as traditional and bi-partisan measures to ensure the quality and availability of shared, publicly-owned waters and forested or recreational land.

These laws and standards and operations essential to a democratic society were in the law and on the job because the state's waters - - meaning the people's waters - - are life-giving through their connectivity; allowing and expanding wetland filling (despite all the benefits) - -  waterway dredging, groundwater pumping and valuable state land selling en masse - - without regard for downstream, cumulative impacts and repercussions to the public interest - - is just plan crazy.

As is the plan which has just zipped through the Assembly and is poised for Senate approval this month to allow out-of-state businesses to buy or lease Wisconsin municipal water and sewer systems with minimal scrutiny.

Current law allows such sales or leases, but only to in-state firms, and after referendums which include the financial terms of the transfer- - processes and policies designed to keep the systems' management and staffing and decision-making as local and accountable to the people as possible.

Call those requirements the stop signs or red lights now reasonably in place - - but the powers that be in and around the State Capitol are willing to let outsiders beholden to profit-focused investors call the shots and make the decisions without having first been required to give an affected community basic system sale or lease financial information in a timely fashion prior to the all-important referendum.

By the same token, we are putting Wisconsin people and the environment at risk by barely staffing freight rail line inspections by workers not in the employ of the companies that set the schedules and own the tracks which run through and over our cities, towns, villages, farms and waters.

There is one such person working full-time for the people statewide while shipments of volatile shale crude oil have been substantially ramped up, and after several events which derailed tanker cars and even spilled hazardous materials in the last few months.

Luckily, the state, and communities in Wisconsin, and close to the WI-MN, and WI-IL border were spared flaming, toxifying catastrophe.

When he was still state railroad commissioner, Jeff Plale told me last year that he'd requested a second full-time rail inspector in the budget eventually adopted in 2015, but instead got a limited-term employee added for part of the year - - akin to addressing a known traffic hazard with a flashing caution light blinking some of the time, instead of a full stop-and-go signal.

And why are our elected officials so continuously assigning danger, deprivation of rights and denial of access to basic, public resources when it comes to controlling or preventing groundwater pollution and manure spreading at and near expanded livestock operations, too - -
when those same officials have the ability to affirmatively put public healthy and safety first?

There's something foul about a democracy in which private benefits are enhanced for the few by socializing the risks at the grassroots.


Anonymous said...

Maybe some of us, evidently all on the republican side, LIKE manure and WANT it in our water. Why can't you liberal gubbermint types get that through your heads?

Anonymous said...

And here I thought it was only international corporate trade agreements like the TPP that try to set up secret tribunals and deny the right to appeal pro-pharma rules. It's all "pro-forma" bureaucratic warfare now where no country can refuse or appeal decisions that favor price gouging, "alternate use" clauses or 5-10 year patent extensions. But then I realized that right here in Wisconsin there's a law requiring every county to accept CAFO's -- no county board is allowed to refuse. So corrupt governors here (WI)and there (MI) de facto decide to poison the people's water, or sell it -- and the forests -- our most valuable resources? And it seems there is someone thinking up new stuff all the time, e.g., is the new plan to give Dane County Board members "guidance" on decisions regarding water protection (even though nothing at all indicates there is any need for (DNR) oversight in that area) such a bright idea?
What's our plan now, badgers?

Anonymous said...



...Republican manure... you water, on your plate, and more of it piled deep on winning elections for decades to come... Mmmmmmmmmmmm...

If Wisconsin repugs can build overwhelming majorities at all levels of state government with literally this sh!t,we no longer can even pretend to be a representative democracy or republic.

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:01

The plan? Enjoy the poo, what else can you do?

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:09 Poo? Naaah. Only those who lost their badger spirit and who need a drop of badger. (Anyway, it's the spirit of the badger -- the revered animal I honor as an un-COW'd, anti-CAFO Wisconsinite -- not the supposedly employed miner on the state flag.)

Anonymous said...

Walker gets my vote as manure spreader of the year. Heck he gets it for the last five years. Be careful where you walk you don't want to step in a pile of's everywhere.