Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Many ways WI GOP ideologues have killed science, data

I've noted several times on this blog - - here or here and most recently, here - - that Wisconsin GOP Gov. Scott Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" Department of Natural Resources had deleted information and links to outside sources about climate change which had been posted on a DNR climate change website before Walker took office.

Walker also wiped out DNR science positions as part of his effort to weaken the agency and its research, inspection, enforcement and information-gathering roles.

The absurdity of this attack on science and climate change information in particular in Wisconsin is made even more tragically-comedic because when the extremely-far rightwing Wisconsin State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk banned staffers on a state forest management commission from discussing climate change - - and let that craziness sink in for a moment - - his justification was that it should be the DNR that was doing the discussing.

The DNR has 2,000 employees. If there’s one agency that’s going to work on global warming and climate change, it shouldn’t be us, it should be the DNR,” he said.
So clearly in Wisconsin these days, the right hand does not know what the farther right hand is doing - - or at least doesn't check DNR websites too often.

I would have said Adamczyk doesn't read the newspapers very often, but that's a given, as he wanted the commission staff - - and this was before he helped convince the commission's Executive Director Tia Nelson [yes, daughter of the late Earth Day founder and Wisconsin Gov. Gaylord Nelson] to resign - - to stop reading The New York Times.

Back to the main issue:

I've also noted efforts by scientists to copy and archive US data bases about climate science because they fear incoming Trump agency appointees might delete similar data bases because Trump and his nominees are hostile to climate change.

Let me also excerpt additional information I'd posted in a comprehensive review of Walker's damage to the DNA which was supplied from current and former Wisconsin DNR staffers about internal methods other than outright website scrubbing that DNR decision-makers and Walker budgeting have used to downgrade, obstruct or otherwise minimize public, scientific information in the agency's possession:

 *  A third former staffer said: 
The most alarming issue to me is the great waste of decades of sound science, compiled overtime in on-going studies and data collection. WI had more information about our natural landscape than most states. Abolishing science services put an end to decades long studies vital to maintaining and recovering rare and endangered plants and animals as well as understanding natural communities as information on resilience for climate change. 
* A current employe on personal time echoed many of the lobbyists and former staffers' observations:
Under Walker and Stepp, science is not a priority. Scientific knowledge is ever-changing but in Wisconsin our staff are being left behind. We no longer have a statistician to help interpret data, a library to provide journals or books, or researchers that monitor fish counts, wildlife health, air quality, water quality and etc….employee scientific knowledge and data specific to WI is stagnant...we cannot do the best job possible for our state. 
The DNR is currently run by people who understand public relations spin but not the complexity of the natural resources they are responsible for...Communications staff, generally not trained specifically in resource communication, answer questions with talking points..usually developed by upper management - political appointees - and legal staff. The information provided is biased and superficial.
And here's a summary of the devastating impact that Walker is having on the Wisconsin environment through the DNR he has damaged with the cooperation of our corporate-obeisant State Legislature:
It was just a few days before he took office in late December, 2010 when GOP Governor-elect Scott Walker suffered a rare outburst of transparency by saying he'd chosen Cathy Stepp - - Racine-area developer/ex-state senator/former McDonald's manager and openly sarcastic, partisan critic of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - -  to head up that very agency because he wanted a "chamber of commerce mentality" in charge there.
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

Not long thereafter, Walker sent an even stronger signal to the business community that he intended to degrade the state's environmental protection agency as he continues to do with all the predictable results by suspending a DNR review of a proposed wetland filling near Lambeau Field sought by a campaign contributor.

Walker also signed into law a stand-alone, message-delivered special bill he pushed the GOP-controlled state legislature to approve which further enabled the project.

It was the scenario which presaged a cascade of anti-environmental measures statewide nearly six years running, including sales of public lands, movement towards privatization of everything from state park operations to pollution permit drafting, weakened barriers to phosphorous dumping, dumbing down definitions of sensitive waterways, cavalier reviews of environmentally-devastating projects as varied as golf courses on sensitive lands to expanding capacity in oil pipelines running the length of the state, fewer DNR pollution prevention inspections and enforcement actions, eased development on shorelines, encouragement for open-pit iron mining in the wetland-and-forest rich northwoods at the edge of treaty-protected tribal land, easier access to groundwater sought by a vastly-expanding number of big farms, hog feeding operations, dairies and sand mines at the expense of nearby and down-stream wells and neighbors, and coordinated attacks with the GOP Attorney General and the Walker-controlled Public Service Commission on behalf of big business against a variety of solar power installations, groundwater takers, wind farms and federal clean air rules.

That is what happens when an ideologically-motivated chief elected official sets out to dismantle an environmental protection agency through managers and underlings chosen from the private sector because they believe more in serving a handful of powerful big business leaders and trade associations than ensuring environmental protection and the public's health.



Anonymous said...

Too many positive and unjustified connotations with "Chamber of Commerce" brand, as appropriated by Walker. Better description is pay-masters and corporatists.

Anonymous said...

With "pay to play" governing the corporate kings can stay in the background but buy the legislation and the market manipulations they need and let puppets like Walker, Vos, Fitz and Schimel do the heavy lifting.