Friday, April 21, 2017

For WI Gov. Walker, Earth Day is just another Saturday

[Updated] I'm not expecting much if anything from right-wing GOP Wisconsin Gov. and climate change denier Scott Walker on Earth Day tomorrow, or as it's also know in the Governor's Office - - Saturday.

I noted on Earth Day 2016 that Walker's office issued no statement.

And Walker used Earth Day 2015 in the run-up to the presidential primaries to send layoff notices to 57 scientists and others at the same state Department of Natural Resources that he had redefined from his first day in office through the next six years+ using corporate appointments and pro-polluter agendas with "a chamber of commerce mentality.

As US News & World Report put it at the time:

As the planet warms, candidates embrace oil, the economy and doubt, while Scott Walker takes the cake.
But if there were a special Conservative Anti-Earth Day Award, Scott Walker would be hard to beat this year. Just in time for the annual pseudo-holiday, the Wisconsin governor, presidential aspirant and Koch brothers fanboy executed a stunning display of timing, bravado and GOP principles with news of potential layoffs this week at the state Department of Natural Resources. Maybe going HAM on the DNR is strictly a budget thing: Books have to be balanced, so pink slips will begin to flutter over that low-priority workforce – especially the DNR’s science division, which researches environmental problems. 
After all, those tax cuts don’t pay for themselves (at least not like they’re supposed to). And Wisconsin’s mining industry needs love, too – something that can’t happen with all those pesky regulators looking over their shoulders. 
This is the same Governor whose awareness of a role in environmental protection seems to have stopped with Boy Scout training to put out his campfire (see video), but as Governor:

*  Set in motion right after his January, 2011 swearing-in a plan to weaken wetlands protections, then also blocked the appeal of a wetlands filing permit sought by a campaign donor/developer, then introduced and quickly signed a special Legislative bill to grant the permit. 

Which established his hostile-to-the-environement pattern: follow the money.

*  Benefited from a secret, $700,000 campaign donation routed through a third-party 'independent' advocacy group from a mining company which Walker wanted, through a sweetheart, insider-crafted bill, to be allowed to dig, for starters, a four-mile-long, half-mile wide open pit mine in a wooded, wetland-rich river shed in Northwestern Wisconsin.

*  Has blocked through legislation and administrative actions real progress on solar and wind power installations though wind and solar are the fast-growing energy sectors in the US and are creating hundreds of thousands of new, high-paying jobs - - mostly not in Wisconsin, where Walker pledged in 2010 and has still failed to create 250,000 new private-sector jobs.

*  Forced the closing at great expense to taxpayers through losing litigation of a passenger train assembly factory in Milwaukee, and cost the cities of Milwaukee and Madison an energy-efficient passenger train link and the jobs it could have provided through construction, operation and rail-station/spin off businesses.

*  Systematically evaded his obligations under the US Clean Water Act and piled up 75 deficiencies he delayed fixing, records show.

*  Has done nothing environmentally with his seat on the Council of Great Lakes Governors where he could have pushed for sound regional water-management.

And particularly for an end to the St. Lawrence Seaway's known gateway to invasive species that have already destroyed Great Lakes fisheries, cost utilities and other property owners millions in losses, and which are likely yo leak through Lake Michigan westward with further grave national implications.

Walker says he is a pro-business Governor, but his wasted time on the Great Lakes Council reveals the label as nothing more than a bumper sticker.

By the way, there's a great new book by Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Dan Egan on that very risk - - The Death and Life of the Great Lakes - - that delivers a lot of important information about the invasive species crisis and other Great Lakes issues. 

I just finished the book; Walker would do well to read it.

* Tolerated drinking water pollution in-older cities' lead pipes, looked the other way for years as large animal feeding operations he's encouraged to expand are known to be contaminating nearby wells - - while also draining the water table with more wells which the state may soon turn over without regulation in perpetuity to the owners.

And has signed pro-polluter legislation unleashing fresh loads of harmful phosphorous into rivers and streams that have freshly impaired hundreds of Wisconsin waterways and contributed to a huge dead zone in Lake Michigan.

Walker disdains Earth Day, as he also disregards the environment, also because Earth Day focuses attention on former Wisconsin Governor and its founder Gaylord Nelson.

Acknowledging Nelson's contribution would require Walker to validate Nelson's stature and legacy, which Walker has gone out of his way to systematically trash through numerous actions.

Including cuts to and an effort to suspend for the long-term the bi-partisan Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund that provides important buffers against filling, cutting and paving, as well as open space statewide for people who do not own their own lakefront property or wooded sanctuary.

Like the state's recycling program Walker sought to defund, or the transit systems he ignores in favor of more costly major highways he now can't fund and complete, or the climate science and education programs his hand-picked 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR Secretary/former developer Cathy Stepp deleted from the agency's web pages, Walker has no use for anything that Earth Day would reinforce.

And, likewise, has no use for any program or Wisconsin resource he cannot monetize for his  career perpetuation, as he did with Act 10 (which led to national fund-raising, and a mailing list he used to retire his presidential campaign debt), or his connections to the school choice movement and those issues ties to far-right ideologues.

The best ways for Wisconsin people to acknowledge Earth Day are to do something good for the environment, support the many groups and causes statewide that promote real stewardship of the land, clean air, and fresh water, and make election day 2018 Earth Day 2.0.

1 comment:

JB said...

Actually, it is unfair to say this is "just another Saturday" for Mr. Walker. It is, after all, national jelly bean day, as we learn from his official Twitter account.