Monday, October 16, 2017

Headline-seeking WI politician grasps for attention

There's no other explanation for Walker's uninvited segue into Trump's wholly trumped-up NFL, race-baiting 'debate.' 
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker Monday urged NFL leaders to stamp out protests during the national anthem and focus instead on domestic violence.
In a letter to National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL players union head DeMaurice Smith, the GOP governor urged the league and players to stop their silent protests during "The Star-Spangled Banner." 
We saw this intellectual weakness when Walker failed at National Candidacy 101:
What we’re left with is an inexperienced candidate whose views of the world lack any depth or maturity...Scott Walker is quickly positioning himself as a candidate who simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
And, by the way, any letter that Scott "Act 10" Walker sends to a union president isn't meant to be taken seriously. 

This whole stunt is only a way for Walker to get on television without paying for an ad while pretending to be saying or doing something important.

Using staff time and the Governor's official Twitter feed for this distraction on the eve of a campaign announcement raises all sorts of ethical flags.

The should use its influence to condemn domestic violence & lead the charge in supporting safe families

This is a phonied-up story by a fake leader. I hope TV news editors and anchors around the state don't take the bait - - just the way he's counting on a racialized voter base to jump at it.

If this is Walker's message, TV should tell him to buy an ad. The rest of us just wish he'd zip it.


New WI license plate slogan? Really going there, WMC?

Good idea, WMC? 
The head of the state's business lobby, Kurt Bauer, said Monday that Wisconsin should consider removing the slogan "America's Dairyland" from its automobile license plates...
...Bauer said many other exciting things are happening in the state's economy. That starts, he said, with the plan by Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn to build a massive manufacturing campus near Racine. 
Looks like Foxconn fever is spreading.

Really - - a new license plate slogan in America's Dairyland?
Three Stooges 1937.jpg

Be careful for what you wish for, as there's already a "con" in Wisconsin and Foxconn, so let the good ideas flow.

Trump's Texas-sized coal fail

Trump touts dirty coal in his war on Obama, but markets say the answer is blowing in the wind. 
From today's "Daily on Energy" email newsletter - - free subscription, here - -  distributed by the conservative Washington Examiner:
WIND ENERGY AIMS TO OVERTAKE COAL IN TEXAS: Wind energy is expected to overtake coal in Texas after Friday's news that two large coal-fired power plants are set to close in the next year.
Two plants fade into sunset: The utility firm Luminant announced that it would close the Sandow Power Plant and the Big Brown Power Plant in early 2018. The power plants comprise 2,300 megawatts of electricity, which means 2.1 million homes in the Lone Star State will no longer be powered by coal. 
What fills the gap: That gap in electricity generation is projected to be filled by wind farms in the Texas energy grid known as ERCOT, according to an analysis issued by the University of Texas at Austin's Energy Institute soon after Luminant's announcement. 
"New coal retirements announced by Luminant (Big Brown and Sandow plants) means ERCOT will soon lose significant coal generation capacity. At the same time, wind capacity is expected to increase by nearly 4,000 [megawatts] by 2018, meaning wind capacity will soon exceed coal capacity in Texas," the Energy Institute said. 
Wind’s future: "Given current capacity factors for the respective technologies, it's conceivable that energy generation from wind could possibly overtake coal in the near future," it said in a release. 
Facts and figures: The total amount of wind energy will reach 24,400 megawatts and coal shrinks to 20,370 megawatts, according to the university. 

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Dealing w/floods is a changing science; who in WI gov't cares?

With right-wing GOP WI Gov. and Koch brothers anti-climate science ally Scott Walker having killed the DNR's science bureau, and his DNR having deleted the science off its heavily-scrubbed climate change web page, and state and local governments in Racine County at Walker's direction are betting $3.764 billion in public dollars on Foxconn building its village-size factory where heavy rains seem to be falling with worrisome frequently - - 
Image result for racine wi flooding images photos
- - where in state government do we send this vital, data-driven information distributed by the authoritative site?
The concept of using a “100-year flood” as a benchmark for risk isn’t just misunderstood; it obscures fundamental statistical problems in how we assess flood risks — problems that can lead to residents and homeowners believing themselves to live in a zone of safety that isn’t there. It may be time for us to find a different way of evaluating that risk altogether.

Wisconsin tweet of the day, re: Paul Ryan/health care

Activists everywhere.

Overcoming Trump's ignorance of nuclear-weapon damage

I was privileged in 1987 on a reporting fellowship to visit the Peace Park and Museum built in Hiroshima to commemorate the 1945 A-bomb strike which incinerated that city.

The exhibits in the museum reduced visiting adults and Japanese school children on their mandatory, one-time tour to tears.

Donald Trump might not so cavalierly suggest the proliferation of nuclear weapons, or willfully play antagonistic word games with a nuclear-armed North Korea, if he could visualize the shocking, deadly damage which blew through the wildfire zone in Northern California transferred to an entire, nuclear-bombed city:
Image result for hiroshima abomb hiroshima damage

Despite clear risks, Santa Rosa neighborhood that burned down was exempt from fire regulations

Foxconn headed for flood-prone Racine County

[Reposted, updated from 9/12/17] 

So Kenosha County is out, and Racine County 'wins' the Foxconn location competition by default, raising this water-related Foxconn [full issue archive, here] question:

With record-breaking flooding in Racine County this summer that even destroyed all the money in one local bank's vault, and more flooding in 2016, and also in 2008 - - 
Image result for racine wi flooding images photos
- - you have to wonder if it's smart for the Governor and legislature to approve unique environmental waivers allowing Foxconn to divert stream flows and fill water-absorbing wetlands in Racine County to build its state-subsidized factory.  

[10/15/17 update] I wish Wisconsin business columnist and Foxconn backer Tom Still had included the details of the Foxconn wetlands waiver issue, and the overall contempt for science exhibited by Scott Walker through major DNR budget cuts and website deletions in his October 14 column, "Science can help mitigate effects of natural disasters."
Natural disasters will happen, with or without climate change. The trick is understanding how to mitigate the effects of those disasters before and after they happen.
More information about Racine County and the 11% of its area covered by 23,000+ acres of wetlands, here.

Racine County is one of seven counties in the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, (SEWRPC), and it said in a lengthy 2015 report that flooding was a major hazard in Racine County (beginning in p. 86):
Flooding is a significant hazard in Racine County. As described in Chapter II, there are approximately 101 miles of major streams in Racine County, located within four watersheds: the Fox (Illinois) River, Root River, Pike River, and Des Plaines River watersheds. A fifth watershed encompasses those areas adjacent to Lake Michigan which drain directly into the Lake through intermittent streams. There are also 10 major lakes in Racine County. Floodlands are the wide, gently sloping areas contiguous to, and usually lying on both sides of, a stream channel. For planning and regulatory purposes, floodlands are normally defined as the areas subject to inundation by the one-percent-annual-probability (100-year recurrence interval) flood event...
Approximately 34.7 square miles, not including surface water in lakes and existing stream channels, or about 10 percent of the total area of the County, were located within the one-percent-annual-probability flood hazard area. A consideration in flood hazard mitigation is the potential for increased flooding due to dam failures. Since there are a number of major and minor dams in Racine County, including six rated by the State as being a high or significant hazard, future evaluation of floodplain areas related to dam failure should be considered. All of the floodplain areas have been mapped on large-scale topographic mapping prepared at a scale of one inch equals 200 feet, with a contour interval of two feet...
While the focus of this section is on the flooding hazard, the related stormwater drainage hazards are also considered because of the interrelationship between those two hazard conditions.
Historical Flooding Problems
As noted earlier in this chapter, a number of major flooding events, including several that caused significant damage, have been recorded in Racine County, as well as in the watershed areas partly encompassed within the County....
Description of Recent Flood Events
Since 1990, there have been 39 flood events reported by the National Climatic Data Center affecting Racine County. Those flood events were reported to have caused property damages totaling, in 2008 dollars, about $41.7 million in damage, of which $34.5 million was related to crop damages. The most severe recent events occurred in June-July 1993, June 1996, August 1998, June 1999, July 2, 2000, May-June 2004, August 19-22, 2007, June 7-9, 2008, and June 19, 2009. 
Subsequent to the SEWRPC report, Great Lakes governors approved Waukesha's application to divert millions of gallons of water daily from Lake Michigan, returning it as I'd noted on this blog as treated wastewater via the Root River, so more flow though the county.

The bill the Senate will approve today for the Governor's signature shortly thereafter with those privileges for Foxconn also exempts the project from the production of a standard  Environmental Impact Statement, (EIS), which would investigate these issues and their broad public impacts.

But the EIS was dismissed as a burdensome  "book report" by the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce - - the state's largest business association and a leading Foxconn booster - - so little wonder that an EIS is barred for the Foxconn project, despite its historic physical and financial dimensions.

Can you imagine any WMC board member or official waiving the inspection on a home site he or she were buying?

Little wonder that while the Foxconn measure is being fast-tracked through the Legislature, a new push for deregulated mining is also being rushed into the legislative process, since what's good for Foxconn and big agricultural polluters will also become routine for metallic mines and their acidic runoff.

So it goes in Scott Walker's Wisconsin, where he continues to dismiss the relevancy in the face of recent and repetitive flooding in several parts of the state, has directed the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources be run with "a chamber of commerce mentality," where climate change has been deleted from websites and the official state consciousness, and where since 2011 Walker has systematically removed funding, science, staff, anti-pollution enforcement measures from its operations.