Tuesday, October 10, 2017

WI private sector ramps up water privatization push

[Updated] The public-private tag team's relentless campaign in Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' Wisconsin to privatize the people's waters like the Big Ag-impacted Little Plover River - - 

- - just got another boost, reports the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign: 
Beware, New Front Group Formed on Water Policy!
A new group that says it supports policies to protect the state’s waters appears to be a front group with ties to powerful business, agriculture and manufacturing interests.
The Wisconsin Water Alliance, which describes itself as a diverse group of state businesses and landowners, announced its formation on Tuesday. The alliance says water is a “vital natural resource” that must be protected for “current and future generations of families, cities, businesses, and others.”
But here’s a quick look at the group’s officers...
Lucas Vebber, vice president, also serves as general counsel and director of environmental and energy policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business organization. WMC generally opposes any air, water, and land use or protections that negatively affect the business community. Vebber was also a former staffer for GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.
Vebber's name should ring a bell:

He's the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce official who helped successfully urge the legislature to exempt the outsized Foxconn project from a routine environmental impact statement review because, in part, it was nothing more than "a book report." 
...a spokesman for the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce testified at the hearing Thursday that the group supported a controversial item in the Foxconn package as proposed - - no surprise - - by Gov. Walker that would exempt the massive, precedent-setting project's construction construction and operation from having an Environmental Impact Statement prepared, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Lucas Vebber, general counsel and director of environmental policy at business lobbying group Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, told the committee that environmental impact statements were "burdensome" and "essentially a book report.”
In other words, an exemption from the Public Trust Doctrine.
Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone
Wisconsin lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens under the state's Public Trust Doctrine. Based on the state constitution, this doctrine has been further defined by case law and statute. 
And the Foxconn deal is accelerating that privatization effort statewide right in front of our eyes:
Here's a single post with links to much of the whole Foxconn story, including its environmental con.
As the state turns deeper red in thrall to the private sector which wants to control public resources.
And while metal mining interests did get some GOP legislators to carry that water, I admit to missing how this all would really work.
It's not that specific special interests would line up for exemptions; it was that the GOP wants to take the initiative and waive clean water and clean air protections for all businesses.
Statewide, as the Wisconsin State Journal lays out:
Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature want to eliminate state protections for wetlands and air quality except when mandated by the federal government, saying they are costly for businesses.
And there's the trick, since under Donald Trump, federal environmental protections, water law and clean air standards - - especially when they originated with Barack Obama - - are being undermined, rolled back and ignored by the anti-Obama corporate bellhops Trump has installed atop the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Matching the destruction of the DNR which Walker has wrought and where he and his legislative allies are aiming the coup de grace.

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