Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Water is life, but not to WI GOP leaders

There was news this morning that some pipeline protesters in North Dakota, facing an expulsion deadline laid down by the now-Donald Trump-directed US Army Corps of Engineers, were abandoning their shelters near the Missouri River.

These indomitable protectors of land and heritage put "water is life" into the national vocabulary, as well as an awareness that there is no end to the big businesses and compliant politicians who constantly threaten the water that sustains everyone and everything - - whether it's the aged, at-risk Enbridge oil line that runs under the Great Lakes Straits of Mackinaw, or the ruinous iron mine that Scott Walker and friends would have carved out of the blown-up hills and wetlands in the Bad River watershed, or the 26,000-hog farm and manure spreading operation they want to bring from Iowa within smelling distance of Lake Superior and the pristine Chequamegon Bay.

"Water is life" is about as basic as it gets. 

School children are taught that their bodies are mostly water, as is the planet. It's why just about everyone flinches when they see someone throw a beer can into a lake. It's why the Milwaukee Riverkeeper always has an overflow of volunteers to clear plastic bags and tires and rusted appliances during its annual spring river clean-up, even if the weather is nasty.

And "water is life" has been in literature for a long time.

You might be familiar with Frank Waters, the aptly-named chronicler of life in the US Southwest. I first read his best-known novel, "The Man Who Killed The Deer," almost 50 years ago, and I have been plowing my way through his extensive catalog ever since.  

Not long ago, I picked up for $5 in a used book store one of his shorter books, "People of The Valley," a rich little story published in 1941 about the uproar in a fictional New Mexico village after some rich outsiders in cahoots with the government decide to build a dam and change all the traditional ways of distributing water.

 "Water is life," Waters wrote more than three quarters of a century ago. "It permeates everything. The hand of God drops it at birth. It trickles down the snowy peaks, the little streaks feed rito and acequia, the great rivers rise down to the sea...what is life without water?" 

But as noted above, 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.

Nitrate in water widespread, current rules no match for it
Enter Wisconsin GOP State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

Right on schedule, Fitzgerald took the marching orders he and other legislators got in a brazen, hand-delivered letter from the state's big dairy operators, corporate farms and other big water users not long ago and turned it into the latest.effort to make it easier for the biggest users of water to hold on to their high-volume well permits with the least public oversight and without regard to the impact their withdrawals could have on nearby streams, lakes, rivers and residential water systems and wells.

The Little Plover River can run dry when Big Ag's big pumps are running.
The special interests running Wisconsin right now have their ducks in a row.

*  Walker continues to weaken what's left of the traditional public-interest mission of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources now openly remade into what he promised that his agency Secretary would run with "a chamber of commerce mentality."

So headlines like this do not surprise:

Audit: DNR doesn't follow own policy on enforcement
*  Fellow corporate captive Wisconsin GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel gave legislators the opinion they sought to help make Fitzgerald's predictable bill fly, as I wrote last May:
[Updated from 1:44 p.m. Tuesday, 5/10] Now look for blatantly pro-corporate legislation to land on the desk of our pro-corporate Governor to implement a pro-corporate opinion from Wisconsin's pro-corporate Attorney General that will eventually be affirmed by our pro-corporate State Supreme Court that says our pro-corporate Department of Natural Resources legally cannot regulate water withdrawals and the downstream and neighboring quality in the public interest - - as the State Constitution has long mandated.
An action coordinated by the corporate interests running the State Capitol these days and predicted on this blog last week.
And predicted, for years, as this 2013 post indicates:
Ultimate GOP Environmental Target In Wisconsin Is The Public Trust Doctrine
To these people, water is profit and power, not life, despite all the evidence right in front of them. 

And here's thing: they want more.

And just might get it this time.

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