Monday, January 9, 2017

Walker milks the manure runoff issue, iron mine player, too

[Updated from 1/8/17] A few days I said that Wisconsin's rightwing GOP Gov. Scott Walker, having done everything possible to drain state law, pollution enforcement and the Wisconsin DNR of science staff, funding, mission and public service environmental protection, would suddenly become the water governor because groundwater pollution on his watch was threatening his 2018 re-election in the very rural counties which supply him and the GOP with critical votes.

I put it this way:

Though he has thumbed his official nose for 5+ years at his US Clean Water Law obligations, has overseen a statewide reduction in pollution inspections and enforcement, and has carried water (sorry) for whichever wetlands and water abusers needed an official shoulder shrug or pass  - - whether sand mining companies, iron mining special interestsbig aganimal feeding and manure producing operations - -   
GOP Gov. Scott Walker has just signaled he will keep trying to fool all of the people all of the time by stealing the very issue - - clean water for everyone - - which should disqualify him from further public service to keep his inevitable 2018 re-election campaign afloat.
Sure enough, here comes a newly-energized Walker, apparently over his failed presidential campaign funk, full of initiatives and promises of state subsidies to appear interested in fixing well water contamination problems he and the Legislature and a complaint Attorney General have persistently ignored, enabled and aggravated.

As Lee Bergquist at the Journal Sentinel explains today:
Faced with mounting criticism over pollution problems from cow manure, Gov. Scott Walker's administration is turning to a private initiative as a remedy to treat massive quantities of animal waste. 
State officials could spend up to $20 million in subsidies for systems to clean up manure and harness the waste as a source of natural gas.
I  would add that constructing many miles of piping to move the manure creates the opportunity for leaks and spills, that the Walker DNR has cut back on pollution inspection and enforcement, and the proposed scheme does not address the rapidly growing increase in big feeding capacities and herd size.

Nor, for that matter, does the Walker plan account for the possibility that treated manure through digester processing creates a separate set of issues and costs which also expand with the unchecked growth in animal feeding sites.

In his story, Bergquist also drops in this revealing gem about Walker's plan, and mindset and to whom he and his team continually rely upon.
"What we are trying to do is participate in a private investment to address a public issue,” said Bob Seitz, the No. 3 official at the PSC who is moving to the Department of Transportation as deputy secretary.
In case you have forgotten, Seitz has been a lobbyist for both a Koch brothers operation and the failed Gtac iron mine plan - - failed because it would would have overwhelmed an entire watershed for decades - - yet there he is again, not only talking up Walker as a water steward but look - - he's headed for another big Walker controlled job, at WisDOT - - where projects take land, produce contaminated runoff and serve the basic fossil fuel agenda that is central to Koch industries operations.

A new Walker?

Be not fooled by this new Walker pose.


Jake formerly of the LP said...

Bob Seitz is moving to DOT? Great catch James, and it proves that results and competence have ZERO to do wuth getting a nice position in Walker World.

Screw these scumbags

Anonymous said...

While this perspective is valid, you are being too kind to Walker. The agriculture interests behind the the CAFOs creating the manure nightmare gave Scott Walker more than $30,000

The costs of handling manure, especially from a "fiscal conservative" perspective should be solely on the business that creates the manure. Instead, this is just another pay-to-play.

While it is possible that Walker and his cronies thought the manure problems would not be noticeable and that their best friends in the state's dysfunctional media network would ignore the problem. This is not likely (but hey, Scott Walker is a dooofus that cannot speak in coherent sentences unless carefully prompted or scripted -- so could be)

More probable is that everyone knew there were going to be manure problems and in return for the $30,000+ bribe to get these approved in the first place, the State of Wisconsin is now going to repay Walker's donors with $20 to subsidize their operations (and this is being disguised as an "initiative".

It doesn't matter which of the scenarios above is true -- the end results are the same. Walker will be able to hijack these donors for more money for 2018 or perhaps a run against Tammy Baldwin in the U.S. Senate.

Anonymous said...


We can proclaim "screw these scumbags", but they are the ones that are screwing the taxpayers. Surely we can think of something better than to deny they now own Wisconsin lock, stock, and barrel.

old baldy said...

What should be pointed out in more detail is, while it sounds great, methane digesters do nothing to decrease the volume of manure, nor do they decrease the pollution potential. That material still has to be disposed somewhere and there are professionals that say digester waste is even more difficult to deal with. Can you add that information to the story?

Keep up the good work.