Sunday, February 26, 2017

Walker ignores State gov't, geography, hydrology, physics, etc.

[Updated from 2/23/17] 

Want an idea for what's coming to your rivers, streams, groundwater and clean air when Donald's Trump's anti-environmental EPA administrator Scott Pruitt turns the agency into a subsidiary of the oil and gas interests he let run the State of Oklahoma, records show?

Look to Wisconsin, the new state-level laboratory of corporate, special-interest control.


Right-wing GOP Gov. and frequent flyer Scott Walker flew off to a big conservative convention in DC on February 23, and in his boiler-plate endorsement of states rights displayed a surprising ignorance of what amounts to routine high school science as well as some very recent Wisconsin state government history.
...Walker called for giving more power to the states, saying the federal government should not be responsible for anything beyond the military, Medicare and Social Security. 
“I think just about everything else is done better by the states,” he said. 
For example, environmental regulations should be handled by states, not the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Walker said. That was an idea Walker first floated in 2015 during his short-lived bid for the presidency.
Set aside for a moment the Civil War, Federal currency, federal highway dollars Walker desperately needs to fix his over-spent road 'budget,' the US Postal Service, the instantaneous, electronic movement of capital,  etc. and just focus on his belief that environmental regulations should be handled by the state.

*  Walker has so deeply cut staff and mission at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources that the agency doesn't even follow its own pollution enforcement rules.

Wisconsin’s water quality regulators failed to follow their own policies on enforcement against polluters more than 94 percent of the time over the last decade, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said in a report released Friday...
In pointing out that the DNR didn’t follow its own enforcement policies, the audit appears to contradict previous DNR statements defending dwindling enforcement action in recent years by saying the agency was working hard to obtain voluntary compliance from polluters through informal negotiations.
*  Walker also might want to review other basic rules of physics and hydrology, because one state's rivers or air pollution can seep or fall into another state.  Did Walker forget this incident at one of Wisconsin's very passively-'regulated' frac sand mines a few years ago?
A spill at a sand mining facility in Wisconsin has dumped an unknown amount of sand and other sediment into the St. Croix River and wetlands near the Minnesota border, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources confirmed Thursday. 
*  And it's been known for years that wind carries air pollution across borders, which is why we have national standards now under assault by Donald Trump, Walker and others obeisant to the fossil fuel industry designed to minimize air pollution effects like these
white paper in advance of [a 2017] study said ozone concentrations in the United States are highest along coastlines. For Lake Michigan, scientists noted research dating to 1976 shows cooler lake air keeps urban emissions close to the shoreline and can be pushed north from other states by prevailing warm winds in summer. 
In Sheboygan, the modeling by the consortium suggests that less than 10% of ozone comes from Wisconsin sources, while Illinois and Indiana and commercial shipping contribute two to three times the amount of pollutants that form ozone in Sheboygan.
These patterns were noted as far back as 1995, as the Racine Journal Times reported at the time: 
This summer saw mostly winds blowing to the northeast, and communities along Michigan's western shoreline saw higher peak ozone averages. Pollution from the Chicago and Milwaukee areas also contributed to Michigan's higher ozone levels, [officials] said.
How would having 50 sets of clean air and water rules and procedures in 50 states deal with these realities? Quick answer: there would be a crazy-quilt of intentional inconsistency, chaos, compliance costs - - and more pollution.

All of which is fine with the Walkers and Trumps and their mutual friend, the oil-and-gas captive Scott Pruitt who is now 'running 'the US EPA:
Wisconsin’s water quality regulators failed to follow their own policies on enforcement against polluters more than 94 percent of the time over the last decade, the state’s nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau said in a report released Friday.
And in 2016:  Financial penalties for violations of Wisconsin environmental laws fell sharply in 2015 to their lowest level in at least a decade.
Data released by a conservation organization show forfeitures paid by individuals and companies for violating state law totaled $306,834 last year.
That's down 78% from nearly $1.4 million paid out in 2014. It's also the lowest amount paid out for violations dating back to at least 2006, according to data...
According to data from the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, there were no financial penalties in 2015 that involved confined animal feeding operations, which are large-scale farms also known as CAFOs that have come under fire from environmentalists.
There were also no forfeitures in categories covering hazardous waste and public water supplies, according to the group.
The Walker administration is spelling out its case against a federal proposal to cut air pollution from coal-burning power plants, and reduce the impact of climate change. The incoming chairwoman of the Public Service Commission took the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plan to task at a forum in Milwaukee. 
And in 2014:
Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that would give wastewater plants, paper mills and food processors up to 20 years to comply with the state’s phosphorus limits.
Walker doesn't know or care that the air and the water is all connected - - which is why rain washes manure into residential wells, or why Green Bay fed by polluted rivers and streams has a large dead zone - - or that dirty air moves back and forth across the Great Lakes, and a successful national attack on acid rain moving West to east is just one of many examples of progress he'd just as soon give back.

The water is ours. The water is ours.

But Walker and his special interest business and ag donors and allies in the Legislature are coming for it and have the State Supreme Court in their pocket.
...there are greedy corporations and their self-interested, thoughtless politicians who carry their water and team up to disregard the "water is life" truth - - corporations and their servants eager to grab more than their fair share of a finite supply of water and even pollute what they don't withdraw or leave behind if they rig the system in their favor.
Big Ag even put their demands for control of state groundwater into a hand-delivered letter to state legislators. The bold-facing is in the original:

...we cannot accept any legislation that would create new, stifling regulations or establish regulatory uncertainty as to how DNR and the state will approach new well applications moving forward. 
Meanwhile, props to the advocates willing to make the fight.
Wisconsin DNR Sued Over High-Capacity Well Approvals
And to the truth-tellers, like Wisconsin Democracy Campaign:

Walker Donors Got DNR Well Permits

November 4, 2016
Two permits for controversial high-capacity wells that were issued by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and challenged last month by an environmental group belong to generous donors to Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Clean Wisconsin filed nine lawsuits against the DNR that claimed the agency is violating its duty under the Wisconsin Constitution to manage and protect the state’s rivers, lakes, and streams by failing to consider the cumulative impact that high-capacity wells have on surface and groundwater when it approves high-capacity well permits.



joerossm said...

On Feb. 15, the immensely out-of-touch climate change denier Scott Walker proclaimed this to be Birkebeiner Week! As you can see from the BirkieGuide blog post below, the course is now mud and slush, and the big race is all but canceled. That's a $26 million meltaway for the northern Wisconsin economy. Did our clueless governor ever consider the economic consequences of winters that only last three weeks? Doesn't look like it to me.

my5cents said...

Of course they got permits. Walker has been running a pay to play government since the first day he was in office. It's all he knows how to do. He has no real clue about how to govern responsibly. It's all a game to him and if the little guy gets hurt, oh well. He cuts and guts, and then gives back so those fools will think he's a hero and vote him back into office every term. Meanwhile, the rich get richer, Walker stays in power, and corporations get handouts left and right. If I sound cynical, I am becoming more and more so because more and more there is less and less to look forward to. When is the last time Walker ever did anything that would not benefit himself. He's just another Trump on a smaller scale.