Friday, April 27, 2018

The other Great Lakes states could review water diversion for Foxconn

A few thoughts, a bit of history and a citation to a key document to think about after Walker's Foxconn-subservient 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR obliterated its mission to become the Department of No Return:

The Great Lakes Compact of 2008, to which the Wisconsin DNR just gave short shift with its quick approval of a diversion from Lake Michigan 

to principally serve a single business's construction schedule and production needs - - rather than, say, to resolve a public water problem - - had been pushed to its complex, multi-layered US and Canadian approvals by former Wisconsin Gov Jim Doyle, then co-chairman of the key body which oversees the Great Lakes Compact of 2008.

Here is a link to the text of the Compact. More about that in a moment.

Those Great Lakes officials' were driven to act because an existing agreement to preserve and manage these shared, world-class Great Lakes waters was weak, and there had already been a disturbing proposal, later abandoned, to remove Great Lakes water to Asia by tanker ship.

So while so-called thirsty Western US states were seen as the possible major domestic US threat to Great Lakes integrity, it turns out that
Wisconsin is the region's water management outlier that needs reining in.
[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.... 
As to recent diversion approvals, first there was Waukesha, and now, apparently, the Racine-to-Foxconn bid  enabled in the first place by unprecedented public subsidies and state exemptions from basic environmental reviews, wetland, lake bed and stream protections and routine litigation schedules.

All part of Walker's dismissal of watershed protections that has set him apart from his predecessors.

The Wisconsin DNR has the authority under the Compact to approve the Racine diversion request on its own, and without submitting it to the rest of the states 
as was required under a different set of rules guiding the review of the Waukesha diversion.

Two things to consider:

1. While the Racine-for-Foxconn request does not have to be given to the other states for their review, there is precedent for such a submission: 

Doyle's DNR did just that for the other states as a courtesy,when a diversion request was made to serve a portion of the City of New Berlin under rules in place which the Compact since superseded. 

Following harsh comments, improvements were made to the application before the WI DNR gave its approval.

2. And the final Waukesha diversion approval came with restrictions long sought by conservationists, so additional scrutiny of these very important proposals can end up saving water if there is the will to put science above special interests.

3. Which brings me to this: the Compact does give the other states the power to ask for a higher-level so-called regional review if it feels the diversion application needs it.

Those standards, procedures and guidelines are spelled out in the Compact, so 
back to that Compact link, and to page 12, below:

Section 4.5. Regional Review.
1. General.
  1. It is the intention of the Parties to participate in Regional Review of Proposals
    with the Provinces, as described in this Compact and the Agreement.

  2. Unless the Applicant or the Originating Party otherwise requests, it shall be the
    goal of the Regional Body to conclude its review no later than 90 days after notice
    under Section 4.5.2 of such Proposal is received from the Originating Party.

  3. Proposals for Exceptions subject to Regional Review shall be submitted by the
    Originating Party to the Regional Body for Regional Review, and where
    applicable, to the Council for concurrent review.

  4. The Parties agree that the protection of the integrity of the Great Lakes – St.
    Lawrence River Basin Ecosystem shall be the overarching principle for reviewing Proposals subject to Regional Review, recognizing uncertainties with respect to demands that may be placed on Basin Water, including groundwater, levels and flows of the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River, future changes in environmental conditions, the reliability of existing data and the extent to which Diversions may harm the integrity of the Basin Ecosystem.

  5. The Originating Party shall have lead responsibility for coordinating information for resolution of issues related to evaluation of a Proposal, and shall consult with the Applicant throughout the Regional Review Process.

  6. A majority of the members of the Regional Body may request Regional Review of a regionally significant or potentially precedent setting Proposal. Such Regional Review must be conducted, to the extent possible, within the time frames set forth in this Section. Any such Regional Review shall be undertaken only after consulting the Applicant.
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