Thursday, March 16, 2017

For WI, Walker's DNR cuts will worsen Trump's EPA slam

Donald Trump's proposed deep cuts to the US Environmental Protection Agency's budget, including a wipe out of crucial Great Lakes preservation funding, will certainly be bad news for Wisconsin:
The budget blueprint, released on Thursday, provides $5.7 billion for the EPA, down from $8.3 billion. The budget “discontinues” $100 million in funding for several climate change programs within the agency, including enforcement for a major Obama-era climate regulation, climate change research and international climate change support.
Trump’s budget slashes funding for industrial waste cleanup through the Superfund program. It also passes along deep cuts to research and development work, the EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Office, and state grant programs, and it eliminates funding for region-specific environmental work for areas such as the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. 
And Trump's careless, industry-obeisant plan is made worse by right-wing Wisconsin Gov. and pollution enabler Scott Walker's proposed 2017-'19 Department of Natural Resources budget.

That document, like earlier Walker spending plans, calls for more millions of dollars in reductions and a cut of another 35.5 full-time equivalent positions - - a trend over his tenure as he continues to degrade the once-proud agency through targeted staffing reductions and the deliberate maintenance of hundreds of position vacancies linked to weakened pollution prevention and enforcement:

The state Legislative Audit Bureau [in June]  detailed more than a decade of deficient enforcement of water quality laws and called on the DNR to end its practice allowing vacancies to occur in positions responsible for minimizing pollution from large animal feedlots that reach lakes, streams and drinking water...
Walker had proposed reducing the DNR’s authorized workforce of 2,647 full-time equivalent positions by 67. The Legislature increased the cut to 92 positions before Walker signed the final budget...
The significance of unfilled jobs was highlighted in a June state audit of the DNR water quality protection programs that found deficiencies in inspections and writing permits that spell out legal limits for discharges into lakes, streams and groundwater.
Enforcement was also a problem. The agency wrote notices of violation to municipal and industrial polluters in only 33 of the 558 cases where its policy called for them, the Legislative Audit Bureau said.
Additionally, the DNR is planning to allow private businesses more direct participation in drafting their own permit applications which the DNR will oversee with fewer resources, and the GOP-run State Legislature seems poised to allow big dairy feedlots and crop growing operations permanent control of high-volume wells over which the DNR will have less oversight.
Photo of Green Bay from U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
If the state and federal budgets are approved act or near the funding and staffing levels proposed by Walker and Trump, there will be greater polluter impact on those resources and fewer guarantees of clean air and water for the general public.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Walker has been stringing his biggest donors along for a few years now with promises of unfettered high capacity wells for CAFOs, a golf course for Kohler, Great Lakes water for Waukesha etc. They are probably tired of giving and giving and giving and getting nothing in return for their "investments." Michael Best and Fredrich, the GOPs lawyers of choice, are also making out like bandits from these same rich fools. I guess it is time for him to make them happy. Maybe they are threatening to withhold $$ for his 2018 campaign? Maybe they are threatening Fitz and his minions too. Time for the GOP to stop stalling for more money and do what they promised. Poor Wisconsin, sold to the highest bidder by a lump of a man.