Sunday, February 11, 2018

Insanity alert: GOP-led WI closer to mass wetlands filling

[Two updates from 2/7/18]

1. Legislators are cutting back the wetlands at risk to 100,000 acres from 1,000,000 - - but this is still legislating from the bar stool, not science for the public interest. Read this excellent report from noted outdoors writer Patrick Durkin.

2.  If and when challenges to this mass removal of wetland protections reaches the State Supreme Court, remember that those with vested, special interests in wetland filling for profit have a) substantially donated to GOP-leaning Supreme Court Justices' campaigns, and b) wrote for the Justices at their request a no-recusals-needed code of ethics when reviewing cases brought by donors. And the Justices adopted the code as drafted.

Link to the history, here and to a recent effort to have the State Supreme Court redo the code. 

That effort failed, so the State Supreme Court let special interests write their rule, then  decided if the rule was fair or appropriate - - no problem, said the majority- - and there's nowhere else to appeal.

That's what happens when there is one-party rule statewide and across all three branches of government, and when the intention from the top is to spread "a chamber of commerce mentality" into environmental policy-making and related activities.

No wonder, for example, that the state is lining up permissions through agencies Walker controls to approve massive destruction in a wetland-rare dune-wildlife habitat-historical artifact-rich nature preserve on the Lake Michigan shoreline, including the handover to the developer of acreage within an adjoining state park.

So Wisconsin is looking at yet another round of business-driven wetland filling - - more than seven years after Walker began his reign with a wetland filling permission expressly for one of his donors outside of what law at the time spelled out - - while a weakened DNRcaptured surrendered Legislature and compromised State Supreme Court are unable or unwilling to stand for the public.

And even if the Legislature is redistricted on the order of the US Supreme Court, and even if Republicans lose legislative control, and even if Walker is defeated, the State Supreme Court, with its ten-year terms, slow turnover and susceptibility to special interest-dominated off-year elections remains a bastion of distorted, contorted Big Business control.
You won't find a better example of what's corrupted Wisconsin's political environmentt - - big business' capture of the process, a compliant, scandalously-gerrymandered, one-party GOP-led legislature and open contempt for science across the government at the expense of clean water and healthy wildlife - - than the Assembly's intention to open about a million acres of wetlands to builders while simultaneously cutting back compensatory wetlands' repair in the name of strengthening the bill.

A thoughtless abandonment of public policy, legacy, law and commonsense echoing the state's unprecedented permission for the grotesquely-subsidized Foxconn development to fill wetlands, reroute streams, build on lake beds without environmental impact review or permits.

In a flood-prone region.

Careless arrogance matched by Trump toadies at the federal level, where an administration also hostile to science and obeisant to corporate influence is busy removing decades of protections for land and water which are in the public domain and which also keep the water, land and air accessible and clean.

All of which makes the 2018 elections - - from Congressional seats to local contests - - crisis-level matters of public health.
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Mary Kay said...

Wisconsin has already lost half of its wetlands. Yet wetlands are especially important now as they help prevent flooding. More than that, even small scattered wetlands, act as the earth's kidneys! That's because wetlands help cleanse pollutants and toxins out of our waters. Our Health department asks people to voluntarily get their own wells tested. See to see what tests of wells show just as to Nitrates. The Wetland Destruction Bill is like tearing out our common kidneys.

Anonymous said...

I have contacted my assemblyman (Nygren R-WMC) several times and asked him to explain the need for this bill. He has declined to respond.