Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Walker adds dirty air to GOP's WI pollution portfolio

I noted in late February that Wisconsin aimed to meddle with air monitoring near the Foxconn site as part of Walker's WMC-friendly push to weaken clean air standards in the state.
WI on air pollution: See, say, know and do nothing
Wisconsin has a hide-and-seek policy towards air pollution: Hide the facts, seek no facts and make a dirtied-up state even dirtier.
So it's fitting that the State of Wisconsin's new official approach to Lake Michigan shoreline golf course development and air pollution data collection
Smoke stacks from a factory.
is to stop that pesky data collection
The state Assembly has passed a bill that asks the federal Environmental Protection Agency to exclude a monitoring site in a Sheboygan County state park from a statewide air-monitoring plan. 
The bill passed on a party-line vote Thursday. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Scott Walker, having passed the state Senate Tuesday.
It's part of Walker's bigger plan to get federal environmental enforcement transferred back to the states, where Walker and his allies can make sure nothing happens.
And, separately, I'd written that February had been a particularly bad month for the Wisconsin environment and the people surrounded by it, as state land giveaways, wetland destructions and dirty water initiatives were moving forward as if no one in state government had ever heard of public purpose governance, the Wisconsin Constitution's 'Water belongs to everyone' Public Trust Doctrine or the US Clean Water Act.

But wait, there's more

Thanks to fine reporting by the Journal Sentinel's Lee Bergquist, we learn that on February 28rd Walker's DNR asked the US EPA to officially overlook known smog-related air pollution in several SE Wisconsin counties, and if the feds won't go that far enabling smog in SE Wisconsin - - and your lungs - - would it pretty-please, (cough, cough) apply the rules along just a narrow strip of lakeshore land to give the rest of the state a-do-nothing-(why can't the kids got outside and play?)-exemption.

Which is what you and I get when a state with one-party-anti-science-and-business obeisant rule turns its public-health and conservation agency and mission upside down and inside out:
...the DNR has a credibility problem, having been stripped of authenticity and respectability by a Governor who intentionally installed across top management positions a 'chamber of commerce mentality.'
And cut its budget, and laid off scientific staffers and generally trashed its mission to erase its legacy, weaken its relationship with the public and devalue its importance to individuals by creating in its place - -  a hybrid agency - - part Department of Agriculture, part Department of Commerce,
Discussed for years on this blog - - here, for example, or here.
Expect to soon see a new Walker billboard appeal along the borders aimed at millennials and out-of-staters he's trying to entire here with an updated new slogan - -  'Move to Wisconsin - - just don't breathe too deeply.' Smaller print: 'Like we tell the kids and Grandpa every day.'

After all, here's what the EPA has to say about ozone, the very pollutant which Walker and our DNR wants more tolerance for in Wisconsin: 
Breathing ozone can trigger a variety of health problems, particularly for children, the elderly, and people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma. Ground level ozone can also have harmful effects on sensitive vegetation and ecosystems.
I was also entertained by the DNR's denial in Bergquist's story that the push for clean air rollbacks in SE Wisconsin had nothing to do with the Foxconn project - - which has already said it will be an air polluter - - and the statement by Foxconn that it will fully comply with clean air policies because it's a science-based company.
 Foxconn said it supports the DNR's recommendation, adding that it is “grounded in science, and supports Wisconsin’s economic goals while effectively meeting air quality requirements.
“We believe that any developments regarding related standards in the future will be manageable and we are moving forward with our plans for the Wisconsin project.”
It reminded me of the company's statement on the eve of its Lake Michigan diversion hearing last week that it would be a good corporate citizen and follow all applicable clean water rules.

Rules which the state has uniquely eliminated or weakened for the company so it can fill wetlands, reroute streams and build on lake beds across its massive site - - because $4 billion in special election-year subsidies for the company engineered by Walker, the GOP-legislature and their business community lobbies just wasn't privilege enough.

At the time I'd written that looking for praise when following already-weakened rules was like bragging that you were following a new diet - -but not calling attention to the new diet's allowances for fried chicken by the bucket and ice cream by the tin.

Now it's like the diet will again allow cigarettes - - because, you know, it's all science based..

When does Walker ask the feds to give us a break from seat belt use (so uncomfortable, and what about my rights?), or writes a rule that mandates lawn darts as elementary school recess equipment so the kids can have fun while following the rules?

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