Sunday, January 14, 2018

Walker can again weaken rural WI water safety rules

Here is another alert about the expanding reach of the 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR that Scott Walker instituted on his Day One and has relentlessly expanded across the agency and state government.

I'd earlier noted that at the upcoming, January 24th meeting of Wisconsin Natural Resources Board - - the DNR's oversight agency - - the DNR was asking for permission to raise fees at popular state parks and also help allow the proposed Kohler golf course to obtain and control for private purposes adjoining state park land and rewrite road  access on its terms.

Note that the deadline to request permission speak at the Board meeting in Madison - - location, time, procedures, here - - or to submit a written comment on any Board agenda item is 11 a.m. January 19, through this email address: 

Now thanks to the Wisconsin State Journal's ag watchdog reporter Steven Verburg, we're learning that at the January 24th meeting the DNR is seeking the Board's approval to perhaps finally address through rule-making the persistent groundwater contamination

linked to manure spreading practices used by cattle-feeding operations, including by the expanding and ineffectively regulated large dairy operations known as CAFO's, in a swath of Wisconsin counties with porous soils, including the CAFO-besieged, DNR-dismissed, groundwater-fouled Kewaunee County

The State Journal's Verburg explains that if the Board approves the proposed and controversial new rules, Walker can modify it and/or send it to the Legislature, but both the Legislature and Walker have a history of bending groundwater and ag policies towards the 'regulated' industries, and the state's dairy lobby is likely to fight the new rules as too restrictive.

You may remember that a coalition of the state's largest ag interests sent the Legislature a hand-delivered demand for water privatization rights that the DNR and Attorney General basically swallowed whole.

And you may also remember when the DNR tried to toughen water pollution rules for the dairy industry in 2016, Walker alerted the special interest and the proposal was weakened on the industry's terms:
After Scott Walker's office alerts farm lobby, clean water regulations scaled back
Walker's interference on behalf of the special interest is part of a long and wide pattern that rewards donors, enables polluters and keeps citizens and advocacy groups at further disadvantage.

Given that it's an election year, I'd predict Walker sides with industry but offers some palliatives, like bottled water deliveries to which no one apparently subscribed, or his signature insincere assurances instead of strong public health and safety guarantees.


Anonymous said...

So if I understand this correctly, the legislature gave rule making authority to the DNR. Rules were written with input from several agencies and lobbying groups. Rules were finalized and then sent to the Governor who then asked industry whether they approved the rules. The Governor of WI asked industry representatives to approve a rule written with legislative authority? Isn't that the very definition of fascism?

James Rowen said...

Early in his first term, the Legislature gave away some rule-making power to Walker. This is the result.