Monday, March 12, 2018

Under Walker, Wisconsin is an environmental outlier

[3/12/18 update - - Wisconsin's slippery history with current and projected Great Lakes diversions - - plural - - boost the state's outlier reputation.]
Wisconsin is light years away from the nationally-leading environmental state bequeathed to us by John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Gaylord Nelson and generations of preservationist activism.

The decline and fall of Wisconsin's environmental stature is due to Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' and pro-polluter record that intentionally turned Wisconsin into a donor-driven and special-interest-favor dispensing and pollution-enabling environmental outlier (the puns write themselves), as shown by his promotion of:

* Diversions from the Great Lakes. It's not a coincidence that Wisconsin, among all eight Great Lakes US state signatories to the Great Lakes Compact, is the only jurisdiction to have backed one and now a second application for a diversion of Great Lakes water.

The first was for a diversion of water completely-outside the Great Lakes basin for the City of Waukesha - - an effort that was long-delayed because the state tried and failed to win permission to allow Waukesha to pipe some of the water to communities outside Waukesha's borders that had neither asked for a diversion of water or shown they had a conservation plan on the books to correctly manage it.

The latest diversion plan backed by Walker - - details, hearing schedule Wednesday in Racine, here - - is to supply the water-hungry Foxconn flat panel assembly factor project with more water daily from Lake Michigan than Waukesha will receive for its more than 20,000 customers. 

Although the Foxconn diversion needs under Compact rules only the approval of the Wisconsin DNR, it is conceivable that in-state or out-of-state plaintiffs will argue that diverting water for the benefit of a private business like Foxconn does not meet the public purpose underpinning of Compact diversion approvals.

* Destructive wildlife stewardship. Or take a look at the destructive so called wolf hunting 'management' plan the state threw together with so little competence and attention to science that a federal court in 2014 included Wisconsin among Great Lakes states again barred altogether from further legal wolf hunts.

Wisconsin had further distinguished itself by doing what no other state had done - - permit the use of hunting dogs in the hunt, thus adding a special and unnecessary wolf-dog fighting cruelty to the 'sport.'

Nonetheless, Wisconsin remains the only state that reimburses hound owners - - usually bear hunters allowed to 'train' their dogs off-leash and racing through know wolf denning and rendezvous zones - - up to $2,500 per hound killed in an encounter with the larger, stronger and territory-protecting wolves.

To date, the state has paid hounders more than $700,000 under this Wisconsin-only reimbursement plan.

* Failed endangered species stewardship: How many other states simultaneously call for preservation of vital habitat for the threatened and disappearing Monarch butterfly population and approve road-building for the Foxconn project (where wetland filling and other basic environmental protections have been waived) that could 'incidentally take' known Monarch butterfly habitat?

* 11th-hour killing of rare wetlands. And due process. How many other states would tolerate their legislature's quietly voting to void an on-going judicial hearing contesting the dubious award to a sand mining operation of a permit to destroy rare, forested wetland acreage?

* Dumb denial of and self-defeating hostility to climate change science. Wisconsin scrubbed climate change science data, information links and study materials from its DNR website, while other states are using known climate science to better plan their futures.

Like our neighbors to the northwest, whose now-US Senator and then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith had written on its not-scrubbed climate-change webpages this:
A Call to Action
Bass Lake, Grand Rapids
Minnesota has made significant strides to address climate change.

Renewable energy now accounts for 21% of the Minnesota’s in-state electricity generation, up from 4% in 2000 Wind energy alone provides over 17% of our state’s electricity– equal to the total electricity use in one in six homes, businesses, and community institutions

Despite this progress, we missed our 2015 greenhouse gas emission targets and will miss the 2025 goal without additional work Minnesota needs bold action to meet these goals and secure the environmental, health, and economic bene ts of tackling climate change This report provides the foundation for state climate planning We need to work together to transform plans into actions

The need for action is clear: Minnesota is already feeling the impacts of climate change We have experienced four 1,000-year rainfalls since 2002 We have watched our spruce, r, aspen, and birch forests retreat northward And air pollution related to greenhouse gas emissions annually cost us more than $800 million in increased health care costs.

Addressing climate change also has the potential to grow our economy.  

By aggressively investing in climate policies, Minnesota could add 25,000 new jobs and generate more than $2 billionin additional wages during the next 15 years.

To achieve these results, Minnesota needs clean energy policies that have an immediate impact on reducing emissions from our homes, buildings, and industries We also need long-term strategies to transform our communities and their transportation systems to reduce our use of gasoline.

We also must protect and increase the carbon stored in our wetlands, forests, and agricultural lands These actions will not only help us address climate change, but will also support habitat and water quality, bene ting public health and wildlife.

Working together, we can take steps that protect the environment, improve our health, and grow our economy

Tina Smith 
Lt Governor

And Wisconsin's ideologically-driven, head-in-the-sand approach despite the warning signs, is put to shame by the Minnesota report's Executive Summary- - and the more than 40 pages that follow:e Summary
Prepare for extreme weather and climate warming
More frequent extreme weather and changing climate pose risks to Minnesota’s communities and businesses.

The state needs to adapt to these changes and increase its resilience so that when events occur, communities and businesses recover more quickly.

Doing so requires that Minnesota assess the risks to its critical infrastructure, natural resources, and businesses. Then the state can plan for risks and incorporate those risks into program and policy development.

The state can do much of this planning throughexisting programs and efforts such as relate to storm water management, urban trees and land management, water conservation, agricultural best practices, and wetland protection and restoration.

While this document focuses on climate mitigation, many of the strategies also have adaptation co-benefits that are noted. 

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