Wednesday, December 21, 2016

New way WI could see even weaker environmental protection

[Updated] Word on the street:

Not content with yet another service and moral draining reorganization to further depress an intentionally-degraded and corporatized Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and mission - - through reductions in DNR science and staff, fewer pollution inspections and weakened enforcement  actions, favors to businesses and even GOP donors - - the DNR is said to be investigating whether it can engineer or trigger with the cooperation of GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel and legislative leaders a basic statutory or rule-writing relationship change with federal environmental protections to further advantage the private sector.

This would not be the first time that the Wisconsin DNR and GOP Attorney Brad Schimel have cooperated on strategic environmental deregulation to help big business in Wisconsin at the expense of the public interest, as Schimel recently gave the DNR cover at the agency's request to facilitate approving high-volume well permits without regard to the Wisconsin State Constitution's Public Trust Doctrine's public waters' directives or downstream users' needs.

And both the DNR and AG's office cooperated in legal moves against the Obama administration's clean air rules which the Trump administration will surely remove.

I know this legal maneuvering I'll describe in more detail, below, is a little wonky, but bear with me because your clean water and breathable air and green space access and enjoyment are at great risk..

Remember the goal is to detach state regulatory actions from federal requirements and standards.

The change would take place first by obtaining a favorable opinion from the Attorney General, or perhaps later by amending state law or passing a new one that would incorporate state compliance by reference only with federal clean water, clean air or other environmental law requirements, standards etc.

That would essentially repeal or remove or end compliance with those specific federal items and their requirements currently on the books in separate Wisconsin statutes.

Or there would be companion repeals of separate state laws which carry out the specific federal mandates - - again to get the state exempted or detached from existing federal enforcement mandates.

Then - -  should the federal government repeal or alter these requirements, standards, expectations or obligations for the states - - there would be no longer any follow-through in Wisconsin because the 'by reference' obligation would be a 'reference' to nothing in Federal law, with the Wisconsin law or practice having also been eliminated.

So, for example, if the Wisconsin standard for hypothetical Toxin A in streams was one 1,000th of a gram per 100,000 liters of water, and the Trump EPA said Toxin A was no longer harmful, the Wisconsin standard would disappear. 

And so on, just by having a blanket acceptance of EPA rules.

Attorneys are free to send comments correcting or illuminating any terminology my lay understanding may have miscast.

If this of all this 'by reference only' games-playing took place, and Wisconsin citizens begin to howl about the greater lack of pollution prevention (recent Kewaunee County dairy operation manure dumping, below)

or consequences in Wisconsin, the ruling party - - Walker, Schimel, legislative leaders and the DNR's Secretary Cathy Steps - - could shrug its collective special-interest shoulders and say that they were only following the rules and the law.


Anonymous said...

I wonder how they are going to do this.

old baldy said...

This may work now with the anti-environment cabinet appointments by trump. But the CWA, CAA etc would have to be revised to allow states to go it alone. There are many SC cases that make the argument about pollution being connected to inter-state commerce. No elected official in WI is smart enough to figure this out, so there must be the hidden hand of commerce (WMC ?) guiding the process.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5:55

How will they do it? With amazing amounts of propaganda. But before we make this about only Scott Walker, let's look at who actually buys ink by the barrel and catapults this stuff.