Sunday, April 30, 2017

WI water grab accelerates, permanent privatization on horizon

[Update from 4/26/17 - - An historically destructive Wisconsin water abuse and privatization bill that violates the State Constitution's Public Trust Doctrine, Wisconsin history and every known principle of resource stewardship, conservation and public health protection is being rushed by special interests and their GOP lackeys to an Assembly vote next Tuesday, after which Walker will immediately sign it.]
When it comes to Wisconsin waters, the tag line off an old song is 'danger, heartbreak dead ahead,' and it all began in 2007 when Koch interests anointed Scott Walker as the man for the job.

And about a year ago, these same special interests now aligned to serve Scott Walker and his corporate backers coordinated and produced a legal opinion from a far-right and ideological compliant Attorney General that is about to literally open the floodgates and send the people's water in perpetuity to the largest private users.

All to give 'certainty' to special interests by guaranteeing them permanent control of billions of gallons of public water at no cost and no regard for downstream or nearby wells, lakes, rivers and streams- - so it's also a certainty that the campaign committees for the lead players in this Great Water heist - - Republicans corporate errand boys Scott Walker, Brad Schimel, Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald will be partisan and financial growth centers in Wisconsin for years to come.

There's no way to minimize the environmental and legal disaster being imposed on Wisconsin and its publicly-owned waters by conservative bottom-line rightist ideologues, donors and corporately-manipulated Republicans who occupy and are coordinating the Governor's Office, Legislative majorities in both chambers, the Office of Attorney General, all relevant stage agency management positions and a 5-2 majority on an openly-conflicted, giddly-greedy State Supreme Court.

As I wrote in 2013:
Ultimate GOP Environmental Target in Wisconsin is the Public Trust Doctrine
There is a principle in state law and history known as the Public Trust Doctrine. Though awkwardly titled, it's crucial to Wisconsin's appeal by guaranteeing everyone here the right to access and enjoy all waters in the state.

The Public Trust Doctrine dates to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 - - long before Wisconsin statehood - - and is etched as Article IX in the Wisconsin State Constitution.

You can read about it on a DNR website, here.

But this basic Wisconsin birthright remains under continuous assault by Gov. Walker, Republican legislators, business groups and even short-sighted judges.
And you don't have to be a water expert of political scientist to see that removing the Public Trust Doctrine from the state constitution, or watering it down to insignificance is atop the GOP's conservative and anti-conservation agenda. 
And despite alarms raised, Wisconsin under Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' governance is:

*  Approving a rush of high-capacity well permits even in areas with known groundwater shortages;

*  Closing in on making these high-volume groundwater pumping permits permanent for their private owners without ongoing reviews of the downstream or cumulative impacts;

*  Continually bending bend law and policy in favor of the big water users and even polluters who abuse the terms of their easy-street permits;

* Letting big corporate users take keep the public's water in direct violation of Article IX of the Wisconsin State Constitution, which has long-declared that:

Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone
No wonder the way Wisconsin's environmental legacy is being hijacked is seen as the model for the Trump administration's commandeering of the US EPA, the Department of the Interior, and other science-based public agencies and managers of public resources.


Joshua Skolnick said...

James, please don't refer these folks as "conservatives" any more. Exactly what are they conserving and exactly what status quo are they curating? More accurate descriptors are "regressives", "reactionaries", corporate statists, or even tbe F word. As for the politicians who they hire, "apparatchiks" are a term that captures these people who lack imagination, critical thinking skills, empathy or a soul. Conservatives is far too innocuous a term.

Sheila Ray said...

I have to agree with Mr. Skolnick conservatives is not the appropriate name to use. I do not understand where the people of Wisconsin are? My Dad if he were here today would be outraged, as am I. He taught me to love all of Wisconsin. At every chance he would put me and my Mom in the car and we would explore every county, nook and cranny. Waterfall, park, hiking trail, lake, pond or stream. We explored hills, rock formations, prairies, marshes, forests, farmland, valleys, shorelines. And in those trips, everyone of them, he taught me the importance of the WATER! Thank you Dad! I keep faith, and hope the people of Wisconsin will wake UP! and see that the water you taught me about is for the life of all things. That we must do what we can to protect it and keep it clean. It should not be used and abused by those who see only to profit from it by spoiling it. How can anyone in good consciousness agree with the terms and use of our states water that's being proposed? I have no name for this, but I bet my Dad would, I am simply ashamed by those who have the power to protect the Water, but do nothing. I pray in the 11th hour they WAKE UP!

James Rowen said...

I found Mr. Skolnick's observation compelling, and note I put a line through conservatives and rewrote the description. Thanks to you both.

James Rowen said...

Instead of "conservatives" - - bottom-line rightist ideologues, donors