Monday, December 11, 2017

Meet your WI environmental champs - - Gov. Walker, Sen. Tiffany

I'd written some posts here and here about the bill Walker signed today throwing Wisconsin and its waters wide open to mining we can describe as cyanide in, metals, sulfuric acid and pollution out.

I'd put it the issues into context, advanced the story, put it aside and began to turn to other issues - - and then I saw the AP reported that "Walker believes that mining can be done without harming the environment."


And then I read this remark by State Sen. Tom Hazelhurst, [R-Hazelhurst], the bill's lead Senate sponsor: 
"If any company wants to come here to Wisconsin, they're going to have to live with our high environmental standards."
"Our high environmental standards?"

Please, Senator: Who should we believe - - you, or those nerds over at, um, Scientific American?
How Scott Walker Dismantled Wisconsin's Environmental Legacy
Because those experts know what we know, having learned it the hard way - -  like those poor souls with contaminated wells near inspection-free, de-regulated big dairy operations - - over the last seven years; that Walker, wingman Tiffany and their allies in the GOP-led Legislature and in the GOP-led Attorney General's Office and in the GOP-water carrying DNR Secretary's office have been lowering Wisconsin environmental standards to an ineffective fraction of what they had been.

Just a few examples:

* Tiffany was at the center of, and defended, the industry-written, donor-greased iron mining and environment-wrecking bill which made numerous changes to lower, weaken and disrespect environmental rules and procedures, among others. 

“If the law is challenged and ends up in court, the judge needs to know it was the Legislature’s intent to allow adverse (environmental) impacts. That way, a judge can’t find fault if the environment is impacted, [Tiffany said].”
Tiffany made the admission after being asked Thursday in an interview with the Cap Times how Republicans could continue to claim the mining bill doesn't risk environmental harm when:
  • It specifically changes the wording of existing state permitting law from “significant adverse affects (to wetlands) are presumed to be unnecessary” to “significant adverse affects are presumed to be necessary...
  • The land above the rich vein of iron ore contains hundreds of acres of wetlands, numerous pristine trout streams and several small tributaries that feed into the Bad River. The Bad River wends its way to Lake Superior through the Bad River Indian Reservation, which includes culturally and economically significant rice beds.
“We are simply being honest,” Tiffany says. “There will be some impacts but they will be limited. Changing the word 'unnecessary' to 'necessary' lets the judge know it was the Legislature’s intent that there will be some adverse impacts.”
*  And we'd have cleaner water delivered by the high environmental standards Tiffany claims if the GOP-led legislature hadn't rolled back and weakened the rules limiting phosphorous discharges into rivers and streams - - a blow to clean water that has led in recent years to an escalation of Wisconsin waterways so polluted that they end up on official lists of impaired waters.

Documented here and here and here.

*  And let's not forget that the rollbacks in environmental rules which Walker and Tiffany and their party have inflicted on the land, clean air and water in Wisconsin have taken place with the unapologetic and enthusiastic participation of special interests who stand to benefit from what they can appropriate from the people.

One example, among many. Do you remember when the rules were rewritten in 2012 to allow development close to waterways, and how the Wisconsin Builders Association bragged about the measure and the inside connections they were working

Here is a key paragraph from the WBA newsletter - - remember it when you see the predictable editorials urging its passage after a few tweaks:
The key to this bill passing is to get some minor technical changes in committee and make sure the bill is not “watered down” (no pun intended!) during the process.  WBA staff professionals will continue working with members, local staff members and the legislature to pass a strong wetlands bill before the end of the legislative session.
*  And don't forget that if Walker and his legislative allies get their way, a million more acres of wetlands in Wisconsin will be handed to developers who can build on them at will.

That's a million in addition to whatever Foxconn gets to fill and build on without any state review or permit, cheered on by the GOP's monied, lobbyist-heavy Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce battering ram.

High standards?

Don't insult our intelligence. 

1 comment:

Joy said...

Perhaps you saw yesterday that a joint hearing has been scheduled for Dec 21 on legislation that would remove the need for permits to destroy “state wetlands”, those not covered by federal law? Every day I just want to weep.