Wednesday, October 12, 2016

WI environmental statesman blasts AG's hard right turn

Props to UW Law School professor emeritus and life-long conservationist Arlen Christianson for exposing in an op-ed the right-wing ideology driving the public service loss to the state and taxpayers behind GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel's intentional and personally-aimed unwinding of his office's environmental protection arm.

I had taken note of Schimel's action in August against environmental specialist and key litigator Tom Dawson who, as the former Public Intervenor, is as close to a state environmental institutional memory as there is in the government - - for a few more weeks before he leaves under pressure.

As Christianson wrote in his op-ed:

The removal of such highly respected and effective non-partisan lawyers as Dawson is unfair to Dawson and others like him. But the primary victims of this decision are the people of Wisconsin whose public rights in water and other natural resources are under dire threat.
Schimel’s shuffling of leadership in the Environmental Protection Unit comes at a bad time for environmental protection in Wisconsin. We know that our Department of Natural Resources is too under-resourced and understaffed to adequately monitor and enforce environmental protection laws. We know that penalties for polluters are at historic lows. Yet according to the nonpartisan government Legislative Audit Bureau, water pollution permit inspections and reporting are so lax that we don’t even know how badly polluters are fouling our waters.
The loss of the Public intervenor and thus the people's voice against the greater power of big lobbies like the WMC was a blow to basic fairness. Some of that history is here.

Schimel's actions extend that out-of-plumb playing field and go hand-in-hand with Scott Walker's corporatizing diminution of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - - little wonder that all are working together and also with Walker's openly pro-business, right-wing Public Service Commission to privatize groundwater, reduce pollution enforcement and obstruct clean air and water obligations and initiatives through government activity, or purposeful de-regulation.

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