Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Like WI GOP, US EPA further punts clean water leadership

I've been writing about the diminution in Wisconsin by the Walker/GOP-led 'chamber of commerce' government of various clean water oversight and waterway protections - - here, and also here, for example.

And I have emphasized it 
was something of a con to argue that these state level changes might not be much to worry about because there were federal agencies and law ready and waiting to serve as public-interest backstops. 

Explained further, here:


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 - - which is why we are seeing news stories like this:
Trump taking hatchet to EPA
And Trump had said in the campaign he wanted to crush the agency, leaving "a little bit."
Does that sound like a reliable way to keep Wisconsin's waters and air unpolluted, or to honor the state's constitutional guarantee to accessible, enjoyable and healthy water...
Which is why I said more recently:
Federal and Wisconsin pollution enablers are doing a dirty two-step.
Well, right on schedule, we have fresh evidence that the feds under Donald Trump's direction are withdrawing even faster from water quality protections and waterway preservation, thus leaving the states, like Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' administration freer to carry big business' water: 
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is pushing back by two years an Obama administration rule redefining the federal government’s power over small waterways.
The Trump administration is working to repeal the rule, dubbed the Clean Water Rule or Waters of the United States (WOTUS), and formally proposed to do so last year.
The original 2015 rule was designed to clarify federal agencies’ authority and give them the power to regulate small waterways such as ponds, headwaters and wetlands for pollution prevention. It should have taken effect in 2015, but various courts halted it....
Its repeal has been a top priority for President Trump, and he signed an order to repeal it shortly after taking office.
Pruitt is also working to develop a new rule to replace the Obama rule’s definitions once it is fully repealed. The replacement rule would likely give the federal government power over a significantly smaller area.


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Fast-tracked 3/7 hearing for Foxconn Great Lakes water diversion

The Wisconsin DNR wants Foxconn - - my updated Foxconn blog archive is here - - to get Lake Michigan water a lot faster than it took Waukesha to get even less

Says the DNR Wednesday:
NEWS RELEASE
DNR to hold hearing on Racine water diversion March 7 in Sturtevant; public may provide comments until March 21

DATE: January 31, 2018 

CONTACT: Jim Dick, DNR Director of Communications, James.Dick@wisconsin.gov, 608-267-2773

MADISON - The Department of Natural Resources has scheduled a public hearing March 7 in Sturtevant regarding the city of Racine's Lake Michigan water diversion application.

The proposed diversion is for the Racine Water Utility to extend public water service to portions of the village of Mount Pleasant in the Mississippi River Basin that do not currently have a public water supply. The proposed diversion area includes part of the area identified by Racine County as the Foxconn facility site.

In its application, the city of Racine proposes to divert up to an annual average of 7 million gallons of water per day to the Mississippi River basin section of Mount Pleasant. The Great Lakes Compact requires that the water be treated and returned to the Lake Michigan basin, less an allowance for consumptive use. The city of Racine withdrew an annual average of 16.9 million gallons of water per day from Lake Michigan in 2016.

The hearing will be held at the SC Johnson iMET Center, 2320 Renaissance Blvd., Sturtevant, starting at 6 p.m. The hearing will include a 30 minute presentation followed by the public comment period.

The department will accept both written and oral comments at the hearing. A hearing officer will be present to conduct the hearing and may put time limits on individual oral statements to ensure an opportunity for all persons present to make statements.

Persons wishing to provide written comment on the diversion application should do so by close of business on March 21, 2018. Please email comments to: DNRRacineDiversionComments@wisconsin.gov

You can also send comments via regular mail to:

DNR Drinking Water and Groundwater Program DG/5, Attn: Adam Freihoefer, PO Box 7921, Madison WI 53707-7921.

For more information, please visit DNR.wi.gov and search "Racine diversion." More information about the Great Lakes Compact is also available.

'Flexibility' flexed, 600 more good jobs gone on Walker's watch

[Updated] Today's word about job losses in Walker's right-direction Wisconsin is one of his favorites: Flexibility.

On his flexibility-favored, failed job-creating and otherwise dismal Wisconsin watch, you can add a freshly-deleted Kimberly-Clark and 600 good-paying jobs  to what's already been flexed off the books at, say, Harley-Davidson.

And also in large numbers on Walker's watch at Walker USA in Waukesha, and Brillion Iron Works, not to mention at Oscar Mayer, Caterpillar, Manitowoc Crane, Wausau Paper, GE, Borden, Joy Global, SC Johnson - - some summarized earlier, here.

Update: Fond du Lac cheese plant with 120 jobs, too.

Update: And this just in: Bon Ton Stores, with a headquarters in Milwaukee, said it is closing nine stores in Wisconsin.

Give Walker extra credit for boosting the Trump tax cut which Kimberly-Clark said it was using to finance its plant closings

Chief Financial Officer Maria Henry said on a conference call that savings from the recent federal tax cut would help fund the cost reductions. It "provides us the flexibility" to do so, she said.
Which brings us back to that favorite Walker concept and cudgel - - "flexibility" - - seen when justifying the undermining of UW tenure to upending local controls and public employees' personal budgets under Act 10

And when opposing federal health care changes, a demand for gubernatorial "ultimate flexibility."

Or when he's after the right to drug-testing the poor in exchange for food stamps as a "flexibility" necessity.

Walker will dig Kimberly-Clark's moves and lingo, because "flexibility" on his terms means people somewhere with less power are getting that right-direction shaft.

Key WI DNR wetlands page omits the cool development news

I'm recommending some deep editing of Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR web pages.

You'd think I'd be the last person to make such a recommendation, given that I'm the one who first noticed and publicized the agency's scrub of climate change science and materials from its web pages.

But there's no disputing that the DNR's main web page about wetlands - - below - - is way too 1990's out of date.

Remember that Walker began enabling wetlands filling for insiders in the early days of his first term followed by subsequent special-interest wetland 'management' victories.

And now we've had the DNR's green-lighting of wetlands-filling for the controversial Kohler golf course, and a bigger fill for a sand mine, and the ruling party's green-lighting of even bigger, precedent-setting wetlands-filling by Foxconn in a flood-prone area, and now the probable removal by the Legislature of wetlands-protections statewide, so the DNR is going to have to better align all those changes to the state's identity and landscape with this language on its wetlands web page, below.
Wetlands benefit people and natureProtectwetlands through land use planning, acquisition and wetland protection laws.Restorewetlands to improve wetland health and function and by re-establishing destroyed wetlands.Explorewetlands by getting your feet wet and learning about their wonders. 
Wetlands are nurseries for fish and wildlife, purifiers for lakes, rivers and groundwater, and storage for floodwaters. 
They’re also playgrounds for birders, hikers, hunters and paddlers, and a storehouse for carbon, one of the greenhouse gases fueling climate change. 
Please help protect, restore and explore Wisconsin’s wetland wonders.
Where should the DNR start its editing?

Well, that whole "Protect wetlands through land use planning, acquisition and wetlands preservation laws" is totally anachronistic, given that GOP legislators are working overtime to sell permit-free wetland-fill voodoo and get it to Walker's desk for a signature.

And maybe add a tab titled "Fill" or "Develop.

Or one that says, "Filling permits going away!"

And someone is going to have to get rid of that heretical line which claims (fake news) that wetlands "are a storehouse for carbon, one of the greenhouse gases fueling climate change."

Also, the diminished state of Wisconsin wetlands which the DNR has been documenting throughout Walker's years in office should be brought more into line with the increased contamination of Wisconsin's rivers and streams during his tenure, given that the number of polluted waterways is likely to increase if there are fewer wetlands to act as the "purifiers" which the DNR web page still claims, above.

So the DNR is going to have update its messaging to better define and publicize Walker's achievements.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

New WI wetlands plan: OK, fill that one, not that one, wait...no...

So this counts as progress in the era of Walker and his GOP-led, donor-driven 'chamber of commerce mentality' government:

Because not everyone can have Foxconn-level environmental privileges, run-of-the-mill developers and others under a newly-proposed, no-permit-needed, statewide wetlands filling plan can build on some flood-controlling, habitat-preserving, contamination-cleansing wetlands - - just not on all million+wetlands acres available out there:  

Under the revisions released Monday, developers could fill up to an acre of wetlands in an urban area without a DNR permit if the activity doesn’t affect a rare and high-quality wetland. The new provisions define an urban area as an incorporated area, an area within a mile of an incorporated area or an area served by a sewage system. Developers could fill up to 3 acres per parcel of wetlands outside urban areas if the activity again doesn’t disturb a rare and high-quality wetland and development is related to structures with an agricultural purpose.
Got all that?

These short-sighted 'public' officials have forgotten a State Supreme Court common sense admonition against doing the very thing which is about to hit the Assembly floor before it gets to the Governor for a signature.


It's been out on my blog's face page and on a DNR web page for years:


WHAT WATER, WETLAND PROTECTION IS ALL ABOUT

"A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin Supreme Court in its 1960 opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC and buttressing The Public Trust Doctrine, Article IX of the Wisconsin State Constitution.
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Walkerites would kill WI water/air regs, following Trump's head start

Federal and Wisconsin pollution enablers are doing a dirty two-step.

*  Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' GOP-led government is waiving routine environmental reviews and water management for Foxconn's gargantuan outburst of sprawl across rural land, small-town living, and into wetlands, ag lands and open space;

*  His Legislative allies, picking up the ball, are working to end state clean air and wetland protections;

*  And the Trump administration is busy removing federal protections by the dozens, as The New York Times reports today.
To date, the Trump administration has sought to reverse more than 60 environmental rules, according to a New York Times analysis, based on research from Harvard Law School’s Environmental Regulation Rollback Tracker, Columbia Law School’s Climate Tracker and other sources.
I noted this state-federal con in November, and even earlier, when writing about the environmental favors and deregulation which Walker and the Legislature, encouraged by the WMC, were handing to Foxconn:
[As I wrote] on July 29th about Walker and Trump and Foxconn:
And here's a major con in Walker's plan...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 - - which is why we are seeing news stories like this:
Trump taking hatchet to EPA
And Trump had said in the campaign he wanted to crush the agency, leaving "a little bit."
Does that sound like a reliable way to keep Wisconsin's waters and air unpolluted, or to honor the state's constitutional guarantee to accessible, enjoyable and healthy water, still summarized this way?
Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone
Here is a link to a Foxconn archive frequently updated since July. There are more than 120 items there, and many contain multiple links to documents, sources and materials published elsewhere.

Note that Foxconn needs seven million gallons of diverted Lake Michigan water daily, and the City of Racine's wastewater treatment plant will have to remove quite a chemical stew to keep it from tainting the lake and its drinking water supplies:
...zinc, cadmium, copper and benzene [are used] to make LCD panels...The manufacture of liquid crystal display panels involves a process of applying crystals over layers of ultra-thin sheets of glass or plastic film. Water plays an integral role, with large volumes needed to clean the surface of each layer.
Is Wisconsin up to the task - - here is the DNR's webpage about the diversion - -  given that there are damaging, coordinated anti-environmental trends in Wisconsin that inform, or dovetail with what is happening at the federal level, and are a product of GOP-led, donor-driven public and private initiatives which continues to spread in Wisconsin, 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.”



Monday, January 29, 2018

Foxconn's water diversion will exceed Waukesha's initial diverted usage

Talk about a big gulp, and a big need to get its return done right.

Foxconn could be using seven million gallons of Lake Michigan daily, exceeding the  average 6.1 million gallons daily Waukesha will pipe in from Milwaukee for its entire service territory beginning in 2023.


Waukesha has about 20,000 water uses in all categories.


The rules covering the diversion for Foxconn are not as demanding as those that helped delay Waukesha's bid, so the required approval for the Foxconn diversion by Wisconsin's DNR only should be without serious obstacles.


Of bigger concern: That all potential hazards and pollutants are successfully removed from the water before Foxconn wastewater is returned to Lake Michigan. 


Let's just say no "sudsy" discharges will be welcomed, like those described here: 
...published reports [show] Foxconn's finger-pointing disdain for rules on the books: 
Chinese electronics suppliers FoxconnT echnology Group and UniMicron Technology Corp. have been criticized by Chinese environmental activist Ma Jun and five nonprofit environmental organizations for polluting nearby rivers with factory chemicals. 
According to the environmental groups, water with a black-green color and a chemical odor have been dumped from both Foxconn and UniMicron plants into the Huangcangjing and Hanputang rivers -- which feed into the Yangtze and Huangpu rivers. 
“Sudsy” water is dumped from Foxconn twice a day...
I'll add this item to my Foxconn archive, here.

Editor's note: headline revised almost immediately.



Walker's divide-and-conquer matures to unify-and-collect

Props to Wisconsin Democracy Campaign for tracking Scott Walker's huge-dollar, perpetual-motion, self-generating campaign donation machine. 
The family of roofing supply billionaire Diane Hendricks contributed $80,000 to Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s campaign during the last half of 2017, a Wisconsin Democracy Campaign preliminary review found.
Hendricks, who owns ABC Supply in Beloit, is Walker’s top individual contributor at about $546,000 and a loyal donor to Republican state and federal candidates and committees. 
Coupled with the $20,000 Hendricks herself contributed to Walker in the first six months of 2017, the family’s contributions to the governor last year totaled at least $100,000. The Hendricks family contributions in the last half of 2017 came from her children...
In case you have forgotten the back-story: 
Scott Walker Promised $500K Donor He Would ‘Divide and Conquer’ Unions




Great Lakes writer spots Walker's Great Lakes disinterest

The independent Michigan journalist and Detroit Public TV contributor Gary Wilson, writing at Great Lakes Now, spotted our Governor's recently-displayed disinterest in the water which surrounds and defines the region. 
When it comes to the Great Lakes, Wisconsin arguably ranks only behind Michigan in enjoying their bounty as well in its responsibility to preserve and protect them. It’s one of three states that comprise the core of the Great Lakes region.
 Photo courtesy of walker.wi.gov
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker giving State of the State address, courtesy of walker.wi.gov 
But that wasn’t evident in Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s State of the State speech last week. 
Walker made no mention of the Great Lakes, Wisconsin’s 220 miles of Lake Michigan shore or the state’s Lake Superior border. 
None.
Glad to see in Wilson's posting a shout-out to Wisconsin League of Conservation voters, and to my blog.

On, Wisconsin.

Foxconn will be major emitter of air pollutants

Foxconn is going to put Wisconsin on the map - - the kind that shows potential sources of greenhouse gas and lung-damaging pollutants.

The Journal Sentinel is reporting that Foxconn is applying for an initial permit to release pollutants into the air at three proposed facilities at its projected Racine County site, and the discharges' scale and breadth could degrade air quality and its management along Lake Michigan.

Walker and the GOP-led legislature dutifully exempted Foxconn from wetland-filling permit obligations and other water-related oversight, but the company has to follow existing clean rules.

So counties to the north and west along with residents close by, depending on the wind, take note.

Clean air administration at the Scott Walker 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR has long been the province of former WMC, builders and highway interests' official Pat Stevens.

You can expect Walker, the WMC and big business tool AG Brad Schimel - - and don't forget his kid-gloves response to another major air polluter's record - - to press the Trump administration to roll back Obama-era clean air standards and make it easier counties near the Lake Michigan shoreline to remain in 'compliance.'
Smoke stacks from a factory.
Though Wisconsin interests have long argued that clean air violations along the lakeshore migrate on the wind from Chicago, and if Foxconn development wee to become a regulatory tipping point, the blame-Chicago narrative evaporate..

The DNR has established a webpage for Foxconn-related regulatory developments. You will want to bookmark it.

I'll be adding these developments to my Foxconn archive, here.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Can proposed Kohler golf course really protect historic sites?

Milwaukee's Lake Park, laid out by the landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted who also created New York City's Central Park, has taken note for more than 107 years of its one surviving native burial mound
Lake Park is located on land the known history of which stretches back into antiquity. A prehistoric Indian Mound reminds today’s park visitor of the original inhabitants of the area. Although we do not know who built this mound, it is https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/EIA/documents/Kohler/KohlerFinalEISpublicNHC.pdf believed to have been peoples of the Mid-Woodland Culture (300BC-400AD), primarily hunter-gatherers who constructed mounds as burial or ceremonial centers. 
Originally one of a series of conical mounds that were later destroyed (some even in the development of the park), this single mound is the last known remaining within the city of Milwaukee. In 1910, the Wisconsin Archaeological Society placed a historic plaque on the mound in order to ensure its preservation.
Wisconsin was the center of this mostly-lost mound-building culture, and continues to be a center of its study.

When I'm walking the paths and trails in Lake Park, I like to stop at the surviving mound; a few quiet moments there lets me imagine life and humanity in our area centuries ago. It make me appreciate on whose land and footsteps I'm walking. 


I wondered when I was over there last week what, if anything, we've learned since this marker was laid down, knowing that even a signature Olmsted park had leveled native mounds out of convenience, or ignorance, or both, and also knowing that there are continuing threats to some of the remaining, similar artifacts across Wisconsin.


And I wonder if the Kohler company, should it get to build its proposed golf course on a 247-acre, densely-forested, wetland-and-artifact-rich nature preserve south of Sheboygan almost twice the size of Lake Park - - and given the extent of the tree-cutting, wetland-filling and extensive development it wants to carry out there - - can successfully keep its commitments to preserve a burial mound there?

Tall order? You bet. 


While the project's website pledges in its environmental section that - - 
Kohler Co. will leave the known Indian burial mounds completely undisturbed..." 
- - the recently-released Wisconsin DNR environmental impact statement about the project notes on pages 63-64, Archeological and Historic Resources, says about Indian mounds on the site that "the largest of these sites...extends over most of the property…," further noting on page 70:
Summary of Adverse Impacts That Cannot Be Avoided
The site’s nearly 100% forested canopy would be reduced by nearly half...
Approximately 3.7 acres of wetland would be lost due to filling including impacts to approximately 1.36 acres of Great Lakes ridge and swale wetlands, a wetland type that is considered “imperiled” in Wisconsin.
My point is that protecting those precious few mound and archeological sites on the property from damage and destruction during two years of bulldozing for tree-cutting and wetland filling, then during and after construction of an 18-hole golf course, a 5.7 irrigation pond, a 22,000-foot multi-story clubhouse, a driving range and a big parking lot  - - and then for years and years while golfers chase after errant shots and visitors explore the grounds - - is going to take a helluva lot of caution and planning and follow through.

And protection from pro-business WI GOP legislators who'd just as soon see them flattened for their rock.

2/4 deadline for ATV/motorized access to 3 WI natural areas

Although the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board at its January 24th meeting turned aside a broad planning process change proposed by the Wisconsin DNR that could have opened more state lands to motorized recreational vehicles, the DNR is proceeding with proposed plan changes already underway underway for three state natural areas which potentially could see greater motorized recreational access. Below is the DNR webpage on the issue. Comments are due by 2/4, and the links are included below:

--------------------------

Property Master Plans Master plan amendments for:

  • Upper Wolf River Fishery Area (Langdale County)
  • Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area (Oneida County)
  • Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area (Iron County)
Mays Ledges
Great Blue Heron, © Bill Pohlmann

Planning update

The Department of Natural Resources has initiated an amendment process to address recreation-related needs at three properties in the Northwoods Region:
Upper Wolf River Fishery Area (Langlade County)
Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area (Oneida County)
Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area (Iron County)
The department is not undertaking a review of the entire range of management actions at these properties, but rather is focusing on potentially authorizing specific changes to the existing master plans.
In September 2017, the Natural Resources Board approved the department’s recommendation to evaluate several amendment requests the department has received, including to provide access for motorized recreational vehicles (specifically ATVs and UTVs) across the Upper Wolf River Fishery Area and the Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area to create linkages in the larger regional trail networks. 

The DNR has also received requests to construct a multi-use parking area at the Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area to serve snowmobilers, ATV/UTV riders and boaters.
These facilities are not currently authorized by the properties’ respective master plans. In order for the trails and parking area (or any other facilities that are not currently authorized in the property master plans) to be constructed, the master plans need to be revised to allow these uses.
This short presentation on the properties and the amendment process provides further information:
The department would like to hear your initial thoughts and perspectives about these properties and the potential amendments. Please provide your input by February 4, 2018.

Property
Upper Wolf River Fishery AreaOnline questionnaire  [Exit DNR]Mail-in Questionnaire [PDF]
Willow Flowage Scenic Waters AreaOnline questionnaire  [Exit DNR]Mail-in Questionnaire [PDF]
Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Ratepayers regionally to pay for Foxconn utilities' expansion

Prepare to add a $117 million electrical transmission project headed for a rubber-stamping by Scott Walker's Public [Sic] Service Commission approval and billing to a utility's customers across a four-state territory to already-pledged billions in Wisconsin and local taxpayer payments that will boost Taiwan-based Foxconn's bottom line.

Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman, reacting to this latest one-company gift - - regardless that the projected price tag has come down - - and remembering that Walker's PSC had earlier refused to allow a similar, service-territory cost-sharing arrangement for Milwaukee's streetcar-related utility relocation expenses, will push for some fairness:: 

Downtown Milwaukee Ald. Bob Bauman is also pursuing a resolution from the Common Council that would direct the city attorney to intervene in the case. The measure passed the Bauman-chaired public works committee this week.
Here is a map of, and further information about the transmission utility which will dun all its customers to serve Foxconn.

Walker's bet about avoiding any backlash from this latest Foxconn favoritism?


That he can distract enough voters with gimmicks like a $100-per-child bribe state tax credit, anesthetize their awareness of his politics of indifference and to the torrent of public dollars headed Foxconn's way and not theirs - - and win a third term. 


He's also assuming that news of a $117 million favor to Foxconn gets lost in all the numbers and the complexities, buried by the rush of news 24/7, and diverted from voters' attention by the demands of everyday lives unrelated to politics.


Here is a frequently-updated archive on Foxconn issues to help keep folks informed.





Friday, January 26, 2018

Wisconsin GOP leaders on outrageous authoritarian run

Wisconsin Republicans like sneering at the name of the Democratic Party by re-engineering it to 'Democrat,' but now they're deconstructing basic democracy in favor of rank arrogance and self-preserving autocracy.

You have the bizarre spectacle of GOP Assembly Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald taking over the hiring and firing of staff at both the State Ethics Commission and State Elections Commission so he can install puppets instead of civil servants or the commissions' choices.

Will Fitzgerald show up at the meetings, manage the discussion, set policies, cast votes, turn out the lights and empty the trash just like every legislator who walks into an independent commission's sessions?

But leave it to super-partisan GOP Gov. Scott Walker to out-do Fitzgerald's grabs for influence and power.

Walker doesn't want any more blue waves breaking over empty legislative seats like the one that washed away his chosen GOP candidate a couple of weeks ago, so he's refusing to schedule two special elections to fill GOP vacancies.

Note that both of the vacancies - - A State Senate seat in DePere and a State Assembly seat in Lodi - - were both created by legislators leaving for jobs in Walker's administration.

How cowardly corrupt is that: promote legislators to state jobs, then disenfranchise the voters for many months by ruling out special elections which could weaken Walker's GOP majorities.

Walker's penchant for autocracy is showing, along with his nervous incumbent's flop sweat, as the blue wave and electoral reckoning gathers strength.



Walker's weaknesses exposed in State of State speech, dull record

In his State of the State speech Wednesday, Walker ran away from Foxconn and other issues that disregard out-state Wisconsin, and he also ran away from the environment despite the state's legacy which he's turned over to big business for exploitation as as it wishes.

Offering parents a $100 per-child tax credit shows that he knows he needs quick relief from the heavy baggage he's carrying into the campaign even if the pandering is embarrassingly obvious.

Walker is still the front-runner with an incumbent's fund-raising, media and free 'state business' travel advantages.

But the flip side - - two terms of job creation failure, youth prison violence, spreading deer herd disease, rampant river and well water contamination and road disintegration - - reveal the wobbly state of his campaign, the State of the State speech and Wisconsin's ability to attract tourists, recruit new residents and keep the people who live here now.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Walker's State of the State. Env. disregard & denial. Part II.

The Governor of the state that gave the world Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson gave a State of the State speech Wednesday with zero environmental content.

GOP Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker managed that feat yesterday; this post closes out a two-part series on the speech that I began Thursday, here.


Let's posit that Walker has wracked up quite the negative environmental record over the last seven+ years  - -  including pro-polluter legislation, weakened Big Ag inspections, a trashed DNR staff, deleted science and slashed budgets, along with the official addition of 800 more contaminated state waterways and with new sulfide mining and wetlands fillings on the horizon.

But let's also credit Walker with a relationship with the environment - - though its more the connection of a wide-eyed tourist passing through Wisconsin than that if the duty-bound lead steward obliged to protect the people's land, clean air and water.

So let's flesh out that odd-ball disregard - - not with Walker's words, or lack of them in the Wednesday speech - - but just one of the many photos of Lake Mendota taken from the Governor's Mansion that Walker is fond of posting on his Twitter feed.

Because it's on Twitter where Walker inadvertently discloses the gap he lives in and from which he governs between an iPhone's momentary environmental appreciation and Chief Executive-level environmental commitment in the state that gave us not only Gaylord Nelson but John Muir and Aldo Leopold, too. 

 Jan 1 Beautiful sunset.


That's the UW-Madison campus across the lake, to the west.

You can't see it in the photo, of course, but on the campus shoreline sits a laboratory of an historic institution, the UW Limnology Center.
Limnology is the study of lakes; the science was basically founded on the UW Campus and Lake Mendota is often said to be the most-studied lake in the country.
Lake Mendota is not just your run-of-the-mill lake among Wisconsin's 15,000. It's is a huge, unique climate change laboratory where experts examine the lake's temperature, depth, fish population, responses to climate change and other features widely studied for more than the postcard-pretty photo opportunity Walker likes to snap:
Predicted water temperature growing degree days in three example Wisconsin lakes from current conditions to mid-century and late-century conditions based on projected climate change. Lakes will respond differently to climate change depending on their size, depth, water clarity, and starting temperatures, as demonstrated by the different trajectories of Lake Mendota, Green Lake, and Trout Lake.
And it was on the Limnology school's blog just over a year ago that UW professors blasted Walker's DNR for having scrubbed ciimate change data and science - - facts impacting Lake Mendota and other bodies of water in Wisconsin which Walker does not see or appreciate - - from official state websites:
* Warmer conditions, especially in winter, are dramatically reducing the duration of ice cover, giving ice fishers less time to fish.
* Deer hunters are finding less snow on the ground during the gun season.
* Many brook trout streams are threatened by a warming climate.
* In lakes, dominance by the coolwater walleye is shifting to dominance by the warmwater largemouth bass.
* Several popular game species, like the ruffed grouse, are shifting their ranges northward and becoming less abundant.
* Increases in extreme rain events are increasing runoff from farm fields into downstream waterways and lakes, reducing water quality.
* High temperatures worsen health-damaging smog (ozone). The hot summer of 2012 produced very high ozone levels, worsening asthma and harming crops.
* Some key forest trees are declining in a warming Wisconsin, and the season for timber harvesting is getting shorter.
* Several tree species are threatened as warming allows more pest insects and diseases to move north.
Little wonder that the Lake Mendota in Walker's pretty picture but not deeply seen or appreciated by our Governor produces reports like this:
Climate Change and Lake Mendota
Late Mendota’s water quality, the abundance and extinction of fish species and less time of having a frozen lake are also at the mercy of climate change. These factors directly affect how Madison residents and visitors interact with and perceive the lake. From not being able to skate on the ice in the winter to swimming in a pile of green in the summer, the effects of climate change and global warming are becoming more and more visible in our lifetime... 
Wisconsin, specifically, has become much warmer over the past 60 years according to data from the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts. These warmer temperatures contribute to Lake Mendota’s warmer surface water.  
Every time Walker posts one of his Lake Mendota photos, he's reminding people of how distant he and his administration are from the lake whose waters lap at the edge of his taxpayer-paid grounds.

Waters that are being influenced by the climate change he's denied, and which are connected to one of the state's important watersheds that is among so many his environmental disregard has damaged.

Which explains why he left the whole matter out of his State of the State speech, but which is visible in plain sight across Wisconsin from border-to-border.