Friday, July 28, 2017

Walker to sacrifice DNR, PSC and WisDOT integrity for 'Wisconn'

Well, now we know that when Walker says "Wisconn," it's more than a talking point, as intends to overturn swaths of state law for Foxconn on top while handing over boatloads of taxpayer cash and borrowing.

Walker is introducing legislation ending for Foxconn adherence to basic DNR environmental water, wetlands and land use rules, along with PSC rules and policies, and also a dedicated quarter-billion dollars dedicated borrowing so WisDOT hurries to finish I-94 expansion from Milwaukee across Foxconnland to the Illinois state line, the Wisconsin State Journal reports

The bill lawmakers will consider as early as Tuesday allows the company to move or change the course of streams, build man-made bodies of water that connect with natural waterways and discharge materials in state wetlands without authorization from the state Department of Natural Resources. It exempts the company from being subject to an environmental impact statement...
The bill also exempts public utility projects for the Foxconn campus from getting approval from the state Public Service Commission before building or relocating transmission lines, and changes rules for tax-increment financing districts.
And here's a major con in Walker's plan:
Federal environmental regulations would still apply.
Because we all know that Trump's EPA, with the cooperation of Wisconsin's AG Brad Schimel, is wiping out federal environmental clean air and water rules and protections. 

Furthermore, the Walker bill would guarantee that any business considering a Wisconsin project will ask for Foxconn subsidies, Foxconn DNR exemptions, Foxconn PSC privileges and Foxconn road-building priorities.

I apologize for earlier noting that the already shorthanded DNR would have trouble handling environmental reviews for various Foxconn activities, because there won't be any.
 


I also apologize for thinking that "Wisconn" was just a talking point and '18 election frame, because Walker intends to convert Wisconsin to Wisconn, a corporate state, without a new constitutional convention.


And if you don't like it, you can, as he said

"...go suck lemons."

Priebus bounced, did facilitate Foxconn deal

This Journal Sentinel's tick-tock about how Foxconn came together has Reince Priebus playing a key role in setting the deal into motion.
Reince Priebus CPAC 2017 by Michael Vadon.jpg
I guess Walker - - with the Foxconn deal now framing his re-election campaign - -  is glad Reince didn't get kicked out of the Presidential motorcade and fired via Twitter a bit earlier.

Other winners: Steve Bannon, Princes Jared and Mooch. 

Meanwhile, The New York Times breaks down the Foxconn deal and finds that Wisconsin is paying quite the premium per job for the Taiwan-based factory which Walker has enthusiastically embraced: 
$3 billion in state tax credits that dwarf the typical incentive package companies receive from local governments.
Even as Mr. Walker celebrated the news with Foxconn executives at a rally at the Milwaukee Art Museum on Thursday, experts on the political left and right alike said the rewards were not justified by the cost of the tax breaks.
Over all, the subsidies for the Foxconn plant, which would produce flat-panel display screens for televisions and other consumer electronics, equal $15,000 to $19,000 per job annually.
That compares with $2,457 per year in the usual incentive arrangement, according to Timothy J. Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Kalamazoo, Mich.

Campaigning on Foxconn? Perish the thought. Oh...

  1. Awesome excitement in Wausau for the Foxconn investment in WI!
     

Diminished, degraded WI DNR faces daunting Foxconn review

A suggestion:

The Wisconsin Legislature should add permit reviewers, inspectors and related technical staff in the 2017-'19 budget it has yet to approve for the Department of Natural Resources it has helped to downgrade because the agency will have to review and inspect an historically-large potential Foxconn project site or sites "three times the size of the Pentagon."

The reality: Nah.

Though a downsized and demoralized Wisconsin DNR is an intended consequence of the Scott Walker/Cathy Stepp mission-killing withdrawal of public interest governance at the Wisconsin DNR,  I appreciated the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's cataloguing of permits and environmental tasks facing the diminished agency when it reviews the proposed Foxconn project site described alternately as the size of the entire Village of Shorewood, a Milwaukee suburb.

Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR

As the Journal Sentinel reports, there will be  wetlands, clean water, land use, wastewater, clean air and other project permit basics which the DNR should review, though Walker and Stepp's known 'chamber of commerce' approach to anti-pollution inspections and enforcement suggest that the DNR will struggle to do its job for the people, or could turn it over to Foxconn itself in line with Walker-era-DNR proposals to enable more laissez-faire, company-led environmental compliance in Wisconsin.


By way of comparison, note that an audit not long ago found that the DNR had a habit of ignoring its own anti-pollution inspection rules.


To which Stepp responded by blaming budget cuts and work rules, pining for the easier time she had coordinating workers with tasks and rules having managed managed a fast-food chain restaurant: 

The [Natural Resources] Board was questioning Stepp and her top administrators about a Legislative Audit Bureau report released this month showing that over the past 10 years the DNR failed 94 percent of the time to take enforcement action against private industries and municipal sewage plants that exceeded water pollution limits, violating its own internal policies.
DNR employees didn’t have time to review reports from polluters, weren’t reissuing discharge permits with updated standards on a timely basis, and frequently failed to meet the department’s own standards for inspections and enforcement action against polluters.
Stepp recalled her days as McDonald’s restaurant manager as she talked about how state employment rules that have hobbled the DNR. Stepp said she could quickly mobilize her fast-food employees when a busload of customers arrived unexpectedly, but the DNR can’t react that nimbly to retirements.
And project permit applications filed with the DNR can drag on and on and on.

For example, the agency has yet to cajole all the relevant permit information in needs after nearly two-and-a-half-years from the Iowa firm which wants to construct a 26,000 pig feedlot and manure producing operation within smelling distance of Lake Superior and the City of Ashland's drinking water supply.


Another example: the DNR got initial paperwork from Kohler interests in April, 2015 about its controversial plan to convert a nature preserve along Lake Michigan into a golf course, but only submitted its first of several formal permit applications nearly two years later, the DNR reports:

The Kohler Company submitted a wetland permit application to the department on March 8, 2017. Wetland permitting documents
So how will the DNR with fewer staffers cope with the multiple demands posed by Foxconn, and what happens to so many ongoing project reviews and routine obligations if staffers are pulled for Foxconn project needs?

McCain joins John Roberts protecting people, key institutions

Not on their watches.

Not in their institutions.

That's what US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was saying when he cast the pivotal vote in 2012 that crushed the expectations of many conservatives, saved Obamacare and preserved its extension of health insurance to millions of uninsured Americans.
Official roberts CJ.jpg
Roberts wasn't going to allow the Supreme Court - - the Roberts court - - to be the American institution that callously inflicted pain on American citizens.

Likewise early this morning for Arizona GOP Senator John McCain.

The six-term US Senator, along with equally-principled GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski, (Alaska) and Susan Collins, (Maine), wasn't going to allow the body he reveres, its formality, rules and contemplative traditions hanging by a thread, to be the American institution that callously inflicted pain on American citizens.

The US House of Representatives can and does play that low-bar/lower-expectation role under the control - -  on paper - - under the Ayn Randian and robotic gym rat Paul Ryan.

But truth be told, the House is actually under the direction of rich ideologues like the Koch brothers and their dim bulb bellhops like Glenn Grothman, Louis Gohmert and the rest of Tea Party-cum-Freedom Caucus which boasts about against government power and taxpayer-supplied spending except when it comes to producing their pay checks and expense account reimbursements.

When put to the test, McCain and Roberts have shown they understood that people, especially those with the fewest resources and greatest need must in the world's wealthiest democracy have health insurance.

McCain and Roberts also understand that basic democratic institutions with uniquely American histories like the US Senate and the Supreme Court in which they are privileged to participate as public servants shouldn't be used as cudgels against other Americans with the weakest capacity to fight back.

I'm not saying McCain and Roberts are perfect or models of progressivism.

But let's give credit when and where it's due: millions of Americans have health insurance and medical care and a shot at a better life because Roberts and McCain stood up against the far-right when that was needed.

John McCain, human being. Right place, right time.

After months of sick Tweets and 96 hours of the Mooch, the antidote:

John McCain cast a courageous vote - - as did his fellow GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins and all Democratic members early this morning - -  against his party's last-ditch, cruel and most-manipulative bid for a heartless partisan 'win' at the expense of millions of Americans' medical care and peace of mind. 
John McCain's official Senate portrait, taken in 2009
The Republican Party and their scheming, amoral Senate leader Mitch McConnell and the sociopath in the White House - - meaning Trump and not the disgusting carbon copy Anthony Scaramucci, as the boss has inflicted his signature thuggish obscenity on a slimed and traumatized populace at least since the Access Hollywood tape  - - may yet cobble together a 'bill' they can slide over to the House where a willing Paul Ryan and the farcically-named Freedom Caucus would make the freedom to die without health insurance the law of the land.

Let's hope not.

And without any qualifiers, let's thank Senator McCain and salute him as he battles against brain cancer and, as he did early this morning, against the corrosive political pathology that is wearing down the country, and which was nearly spread intentionally by a gang of feckless errand boys and selfish stooges like Ron Johnson and Ted Cruz to another 15 million citizens and their families, some homebound, some in nursing homes, many in poverty so already hit hard by illness, infectious disease, birth defects, or just plain bad luck which a decent human being wouldn't wish on anyone, let alone make worse.

Gratitude and best wishes to human being John McCain, right person at the right place at the right time.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Walker - - Gov. Cynicism - - decries Foxconn 'cynics'

The Wisconsin Governor who has made a career out of cynical dividing-and-conquering - - from playing public employees against private-sector blue-collar workers (before later feigning opposition to and then signing wage-depressing 'right-to-work legislation which hammered those workers, too) to openly whipping up exurban GOP voters with anti-Milwaukee sentiment and later adding more dog-whistling campaign calls about drug-testing public aid recipients - - now calls out 'cynics' during day one of his Foxconn p.r. blitz

Not everyone has his short memory, capacity for self-parody or brazen cynicism.



A Foxconn Fever primer

[Updated from 7/26/17] Foxconn wants to build in Wisconsin:

*  Walker to convert Wisconsin to Wisconn without a constitutional convention, and if you don't like it, 'go suck lemons."
Walker to sacrifice DNR, PSC and WisDot integrity for 'Wisconn'
*  The cynical pot has his say.
Walker - - Gov. Cynicism - - decries Foxconn 'cynics'

*  Walker already has '18 campaign in Foxconn frame:
About Walker's '18 election Foxconn over-under
*  In Walker's Wisconsin, some blue-collar jobs are more important than others:
Walker touts Foxconn construction jobs, threw away Amtrak's
* Walker, Trump should become the new champions of Great Lakes preservation and climate change science: 
Great Lakes water lifts Foxconn deal
*  About jobs:
3,000 Foxconn jobs would not = 3,776 WI mfg. jobs lost in '16
*  Are HB-5 $$-for-visas in the deal:
Are green cards for investment in a Foxconn-WI deal?
*  Public dollars needed:
How many WI dollars will Walker give super-wealthy Foxconn?
*  When Foxconn stiffed another state:
If you've got Foxconn fever, remember Pennsylvania's hangover
*  Vos blocked transit Foxconn workers could have used:
Vos' long transit blockade does not help Racine's Foxconn future
* Walker killed Amtrak service Foxconn might have loved: 
Amtrak line killed by Walker could have fed Foxconn






About Walker's '18 campaign 'Foxconn' over-under

I'd mused on Facebook about guessing Walker's Foxconn over-under number through the November 2018 election because we knew he'd use the proposed deal to distract from his failed 250,000 new jobs promise that is 70,000 jobs and 2.5 years short of its January 2015 deadline.

Confirmed by Politifact.

But we'll have to adjust the over-under discussion since Walker's talking point drafters have him throwing out "Wisconn Valley."

Get it...Wisconsin...Silicon Valley...Wisconn Valley...where 'Valley' workers on greater Racine-Kenosha area farmland may produce LCD panels like the one below with residents ponying up local subsidies through local bonding?


However, with Silicon Valley's tech employment at more than 600,000, I'd say, Wisconn Valley...not

Anyway, Bloomberg News carries a reality-check op-ed which says, in effect, 'don't be conned' by the jobs the factory could create:

...the only way to make it viable is by keeping staffing low and leaning on automation to boost productivity. This LCD factory will be either labor intensive or highly automated. It can't be both...
Just this past year, Foxconn is reported to have pledged investments of $5 billion in India; $3.65 billion in Kunshan, China; and $8.8 billion in Guangzhou. It's too early to know if those sums will ever be spent, but including Wisconsin, the tally now stands at $27.5 billion of commitments. That's more than Hon Hai has spent in the last 23 years.
Terry Gou didn't get where he is today by blithely spending money on huge factories. Instead, he's learned to entice leaders into thinking big, and then letting them pay.

Walker touts Foxconn construction jobs, but threw away Amtrak's

Wherein we learn that in Walker's Wisconsin, some construction jobs are more important than others.

And have more political value than others, too.

Walker is throwing out big Foxconn round-number construction job estimates:
Foxconn wants to break ground on a 20 million square foot facility in 2018 and begin operations in 2020, Walker said. Building it will require 10,000 construction workers – so many that the company will need to recruit workers from northern Wisconsin and elsewhere, he said.
But Walker, right after his 2011 swearing-in, had no problem discarding very specific job estimates by the thousands for fully-federally funded Amtrak rail construction and related employment
 
which the Journal Sentinel at the time had published, and which I copied out, here: 
---------------------------------------

Former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel transportation reporter Larry Sandler in early 2012 had laid out the train-assembling, rail construction and spin-off jobs lost when GOP gubernatorial-candidate-and-later-Governor Scott Walker effectively scuttled the Milwaukee-Madison Amtrak extension that was also projected as a link in a multi-state, higher-speed passenger service upgrade:
Talgo, a Spanish train manufacturer, is seeking a Wisconsin plant to assemble trains that could run on this route. The Talgo business could create 50 to 60 jobs building two trains that the state already has ordered for the existing Milwaukee-to-Chicago Hiawatha service, plus another 20 to 30 more building two more trains for high-speed service, says Jim Schmelzer, president of Super Steel Products Corp., which is seeking the work. 
Counting "indirect" jobs at suppliers would add another 152 jobs this year, 479 next year, 647 in 2012, 202 in 2013, 54 in 2014 and 11 in 2015. State and local government jobs, including planners, engineers and project managers, would total 67 this year, 212 next year, 291 in 2012, 109 in 2013, 47 in 2014 and 26 in 2015. Klein said personnel hired by the state Department of Transportation for this project would hold their jobs no more than four years. 
Therefore, total employment specifically linked to the train line would be 1,100 this year, 3,483 next year, 4,732 in 2012, 1,542 in 2013, 483 in 2014 and 167 in 2015.
So in the 2010 election, Walker tossed away jobs to curry favor with anti-urban red counties, and now touts jobs to those same counties to set himself up for '18.

Divide, conquer, regroup, reconquer. 

GOP governors credit Walker with creating extra 10,000 jobs

Walker is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, (RGA), so surely he and or his staff could have but didn't correct in today's RGA's Foxconn statement  this overstatement of the number of workers Foxconn "will employ." 
Foxconn Technology Group is pledging to invest $10 billion dollars in the state to build a new plant that will employ 13,000 new workers. 
The RGA then cites the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel [sic], though the newspaper correctly notes that Foxconn "could employ up to 13,000 workers."

One little qualifying word gets changed and Walker gets credited with definitely creating an extra 10,000 jobs.

Call it another "drafting error."



Lake Michigan water lifts Foxconn deal

No doubt having home district House Speaker Paul Ryan around to bird-dog Foxcomm's federal subsidy, tax and political needs was a consideration in where the company has decided to build a massive US plant.

And surely Trump's interest in expanding in 2020 his paper-thin ballot box margin in swing state Wisconsin played a role - - and we now better understand why  Ryan and Scott Walker have been willing to enable Trump's egomaniacal and dangerous personal and political excesses.

But don't overlook the availability of Great Lakes water as critical to Foxconn's location decision.

Experts like John Austin at the Brookings Institution have argued for years - - and he made his case in Wisconsin ten years ago which I noted in the early days of this blog - - that Great Lakes water is among the region's under-appreciated economic advantages.

So now I expect Ryan and other Great Lakes members of Congress to prevent Trump from zeroing out the Great Lakes restoration fund which is crucial to the health of the Great Lakes and the supply of clean water that manufacturers need.

And on which which Trump and his Wisconsin political allies will campaign on and soothe their Foxconn Fever. 

And it makes no sense for Walker and his do-nothing GOP Legislative allies to keep running the Pollution Party and tolerating the contamination of Lake Michigan with a large dead zone near Green Bay while promoting clean water just too the south.

Though it's probably too much to expect that these Republicans' new embrace of the Great Lakes means they will begin to pay closer attention to the impacts a warming planet and climate change are already having on the Great Lakeswhich Walker's DNR scrubbed off its website.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

3,000 Foxconn jobs would not = 3,776 WI mfg. jobs lost in '16

Word is that Foxconn would initially shoot for 3,000 Wisconsin jobs - - more investment and inducement issues, here - - and that will help people and communities.

But if Walker shows irrational Foxconn fever symptoms. please remind him that Wisconsin lost more than 3,700 manufacturing jobs last year and he's still nowhere near meeting his 250,000 new jobs pledge which is now more than 2.5 years and tens of thousands of jobs behind schedule

For the years 2011 through 2014, Wisconsin added 130,153 private-sector jobs, meaning Walker fell short of his first-term promise by about 100,000 jobs, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages...
The fourth quarter numbers for 2015 and 2016 from the BLS show Wisconsin added 38,077 and 11,548 jobs respectively. The 2016 growth numbers were the worst during Walker’s tenure and the worst since the economy rebounded after the 2008-’09 recession.
In total, Wisconsin has added a total of 179,778 private sector jobs during Walker’s near seven years as governor, which puts him 70,000 short of the pledged 250,000 new jobs.
  

If DNR's Stepp quits, a clone will step in

Celebrations may be premature, because the Walker-WMC-Pollution Complex can easily supply an equally ill-informed, ill-fitting replacement, but for the record there is a published prediction in Outdoor News that Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wrecker-from-within Cathy Stepp may be about to leave behind Wisconsin.
Stepp is often gone from the office, and has missed the last two Natural Resources Board meetings. Previous secretaries, such as Les Voigt and Buzz Besadny, would never miss a meeting of the Natural Resources Board.
Stepp, a home builder with no academic natural resources education, is building a retirement home in the Ozarks of Missouri. Once the budget passes, I expect her to resign as secretary of the DNR.
 Also that she'd be leaving behind the agency mess she helped create.
The DNR, once a nationally-regarded science-based resource protection agency, has been disregarded, defunded and degraded by management "deliberately and proudly uninformed," according to one first-hand observer among several whom I surveyed over the course of ten days. 
Wisconsin's far-right Governor Scott Walker set the DNR's downfall in motion when he appointed at the beginning of his tenure Racine developer and unabashed DNR-trasher Cathy Stepp - -
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
- - read her anti-DNR-staff-and-program rant while a revealing Stepp video has been taken off-line - - to oversee the DNR as Secretary with what Walker called "a chamber of commerce mentality." 
Walker then added other top managers with work at leading builders, transportation and commerce trade associations on their resumes to oversee crucial air, water and other environmental policy development, implementation and decision-making. 
While Stepp, at times, has promoted in-house activities or made remarks which one first-hand observer has called "not very professional. I think she is deliberately and proudly uninformed." 
A summary post about some of this is here.

Are green cards for investment in a Foxconn-WI deal?

Though the controversial green-cards-for-foreign investments program known as EB-5 could expire September 30, it should be pointed out that SE Wisconsin is already a designated zone for the program which the business community really likes.

So it's fair to ask - - as I did yesterday about taxpayers' expected donation to the Foxconn deal which could be announced today - - will any jobs in a deal with the Taiwan-based firm go to people from outside the US in exchange for a Foxconn plant siting in Wisconsin?

The Trump family has used EB-5, and a related program to bring in foreign workers on temporary visas which Trump recently expanded even though he is purportedly the 'America First President.

And is close to Foxconn's founder, Terry Gou.

I've been asking questions about Foxconn Fever since July 15.

In other words, stay tuned.


  

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

How many WI dollars will Walker give super-wealthy Foxconn?

[Update - - Now we're talking $1-3 billion in corporate welfare!] 

It will be interesting to watch the same fiscally-conservative [sic] Wisconsin Republicans who say they don't want government to pick winners and losers, and who are still debating exactly how many more millions in taxpayer dollars to haul over to the highway lobby, are withholding some promised payments to local governments for 2016 flood damages to roads, and who nearly stopped breathing when railing about public funds for a new Bucks' arena cough up what is rumored to be at least $200 million in Wisconsin taxpayer factory-building inducements to Taiwanese electronics giant Foxconn.

Read through this 2017 news story, remembering that it takes about 30 Taiwanese dollars to equal one US dollar, in case you think Foxconn really needs the subsidy:
Foxconn Fourth-Quarter Net Profit Estimated T$68.77 Billion [US $2.26 billion] up 30 Percent From Year Ago
Taiwan's Foxconn, the world's largest contract electronics maker and a key Apple Inc supplier, on Friday reported 30 percent growth in fourth quarter net profit from a year ago, defying expectations for a decline...
Net profit in the final three months of 2016 ended four quarters of year-on-year declines to reach T$68.77 billion ($2.26 billion), up from T$52.93 billion in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to a Reuters calculation based on Foxconn's full year 2016 results.
It was...double the T$34.64 billion recorded in the third quarter of 2016.
  

Trump's EPA enabling Chicago air pollution...reaching WI

This Chicago-area known air pollution outrage should be a concern in Wisconsin...
The pollution violations at Indiana Harbor Coke are serious enough that the company is on the EPA's watchlist of repeat offenders. Yet the agency has held off filing a lawsuit against the coke plant, and some current and former agency officials are concerned about an overall slowdown of enforcement by an administration that is pushing to cut the EPA's budget by a third, lay off thousands of employees and roll back its regulatory powers.
Because we're constantly told that dirty air along the Lake Michigan shoreline from Kenosha to Door County
Smoke stacks from a factory. 
drifts up from Chicago
Local politicians and business leaders long have claimed that Sheboygan's air pollution problems are not of its own making, but are caused by pollution from Chicago and other areas on Lake Michigan wafting northward, hitting Sheboygan hardest because it juts farther out into the lake than counties to the south. Environmental experts have acknowledged that is likely the case... 
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce [had said]..."For too long Sheboygan County businesses have been forced to take on an increased regulator burden because of polluters in other states and other counties." 

WI CAFO manure issue reaches upscale neighbors

Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy
Candid photograph of McCarthy wearing a green Packers polo shirt and white Packers baseball cap.
could throw a challenge flag that would land in Brown County court, at the DNR headquarters in Madison and beyond.

Read on.

Long-time Wisconsin clean water advocates in Kewaunee County who have been battling the rapid expansion of industrial-scale manure-producing feedlot operations known as CAFOs

a) have won a rare victory for clean drinking water, I noted earlier today and b) may find new support in neighboring Brown County where a CAFO's plan to store millions of gallons of manure threatens an upscale exurban housing development with some high-profile, media-savvy and well-heeled allies
Residents of a development off Lime Kiln Road are scrambling to find ways to keep a nearby dairy farm from building a manure-storage facility near their neighborhood of custom homes valued from $440,000 to more than $600,000.
Neighbors fear the farm could be allowed to store millions of gallons of manure and leachate at the site. Those concerns have galvanized a group that includes doctors, lawyers and the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. Some barely knew each other mere months ago...
Among other things, the farm's neighbors worry about water quality. Manure from farm runoff has contaminated certain wells in parts of Kewaunee County.

Advocates get win vs. WI manure-polluters

[Update - - Brown County CAFO opponents now count Packers' coach McCarthy as an ally.]

There has been an enforcement action against a Kewaunee County dairy operator for polluting the groundwater. Props to those who have been pressing the state to address these unacceptable, yet frequent incidents.  
                                                  
----------------------------------
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 25, 2017
Media Contacts
Steve Masar, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project 
415-420-7527 | media@sraproject.org

Lynn Utesch, Kewaunee CARES
920-388-0868 | lnutesch@yahoo.com

Kewaunee County Dairy Fined $50,000 for Polluting Residential Well

Stahl Brothers Dairy penalized for contaminating a local drinking water well, wetlands & two streams; judgment & fine “tip of the iceberg” for rural Wisconsin pollution crisis 

MADISON, WI––JULY 25, 2017––The Wisconsin Department of Justice (WDOJ) has fined Stahl Brothers Dairy of Luxemburg, WI a total of $50,000 for two incidents of over-application and runoff of liquefied manure in Kewaunee County. In December 2014, Stahl Brothers over-applied manure to frozen crop fields resulting in runoff that polluted a private drinking water well at a County residence. The manure also contaminated a County wetland. In November 2015, Stahl Brothers Dairy again over-applied liquefied manure that spilled into two area streams.

Working with impacted citizens of Kewaunee County, Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP) is releasing the state’s Complaint, Judgment, Stipulation and Order after obtaining the documents through an open records request to Wisconsin Department of Justice (WDOJ). Per new internal WDOJ procedures, the state agency has reversed previous practices and does not communicate actions by their office to the public. 

“This is just the tip of the iceberg for industrial dairy violations that deserve penalties and sanction from the State of Wisconsin,” said Scott Dye, Regional Representative for SRAP. “State records tell the tale and it’s a harsh fact of life for Kewaunee County residents. The Stahl Brothers Dairy has long been a repeat offender with an abysmal history of violations dating back nearly 30 years.”

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, manure contamination of water sources creates the risk for bacterial infections, including Campylobacter, Cryptosporidium, E. coli and Salmonella. Contamination can lead to public health risks such as respiratory and ear infections, skin rashes and infections in open wounds, with young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems being the most at-risk. 

The WDOJ judgment outlines specific violations of the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) program by the Stahl Brothers’ operation. The dairy “failed to comply with approved application rates when applying manure and process wastewater to land application sites”; failed to prevent manure and process wastewater from running off application sites”; and “failed to prevent manure and process wastewater from discharging into waters of the state in excess of applicable discharge limitations.”

“Failure to protect the citizens of Kewaunee County is business as usual for these industrial dairy operations,” said Lynn Utesch, a local farmer and co-founder of Kewaunee Cares. “Residents are constantly exposed to health hazards due to excess liquid manure applications. The resulting contamination to private wells and our community surface waters poses a threat that the state must continue to confront.” 
The judgment against Stahl Brothers Dairy is not the first. In September 2011, the industrial dairy paid more than $55,000 in state fines and penalties for a major spill from a liquefied manure pit in 2009. That contamination incident resulted in a large-scale fish-kill and polluted 12.9 miles of the Kewaunee River.

Stahl Brothers Dairy isn’t the only Kewaunee County concentrated animal feeding operation (CAFO) that has had recent violations. Since April 2014, one-half of the County’s 15 industrial dairies and one large beef feedlot have been cited for violations 15 times by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR). The violations include 10 citations for improper manure application, two for waste discharges from animal production areas and three for violations of required reporting or approvals. 

Since 2013, only Stahl Brothers has been referred to WDOJ for enforcement and paid fines and penalties.

After more than a year-and a-half of research, SRAP compiled and released an exhaustive audit of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources records on the compliance history for all 16 Kewaunee County CAFOs. The 137-page report The Rap Sheets: Industrial Dairies in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin was released in April 2015.  Then as now, approximately 30 percent of all tested drinking water wells in rural Kewaunee County remain contaminated with dangerous levels of E. coli bacteria and/or nitrates, rendering them unsafe and unfit for human consumption and household use.

“Monitoring, reporting and punishing ongoing violations by industrial CAFOs needs to continue until Kewaunee County’s public health emergency has been eliminated,” said Dye.

A copy of State of Wisconsin v Stahl Brothers Dairy, LLC, Case No. 17-CX-6 is available upon request (names redacted).

###

About Socially Responsible Agricultural Project
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project provides free, professional assistance to communities working to protect themselves from factory farms and their impact on local communities and populations, and to those who are trying to reclaim agriculture by producing and marketing sustainable agricultural goods.  More information can be found at www.sraproject.org.

About Kewaunee CARES 

Kewaunee CARES advocates for stewardship of the land, air and water to provide a thriving environment, economy and community in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Please visit www.kewauneecares.wordpress.com.