Friday, August 31, 2018

Walker's WI in denial about climate change. Wetland protection, too.

I've been writing about Walker's attacks on the DNR and climate science - -  
Documenting WI Gov. Walker's attacks on science, climate change
[1/1/17, updated from 12/22/16] On December 22nd, this blog carried the first disclosure that WI GOP Gov. Scott Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" Department of Natural Resources, (see part five of a recent series about his redefining the agency, here), had again deleted from taxpayer-paid, public web pages wording and information about climate, climate change and its human causation.
- - plus clean air, clean water and wetland, and - - 

For years, including summaries, like this 2013 post:
Ultimate GOP Environmental Target In Wisconsin Is The Public Trust Doctrine
Here's a short list of some of what I wrote last week touching on these issues, and yes, there's some repetition, but the rains, flooding, and official denial from Walker on climate change coupled with his policies' damage statewide has been repetitious, too. 

So from last week:

*  A summary post updated between 8/18-8/22:

Wisconsin landscape flooded with water, dismissal of science, too
*   8/21: 
Walker the wetland-killer should fill his Scottholes
*  8/24: 
Dane's flooding, others, are our climate change wake-up calls. End complacent denial
*  8/27: 
WI Climate Change Information; Much lost, some found
* 8/27:
Climate change politics strand Walker. Again. On video. Again.
* 8/28:
WI GOP environmental motto: 'No Permit Required.'
* 8/28:  
Who needed those axed WI climate change experts & their science? We did.
* 8/28: 
WI DNR seeking input on water policy, so shout "Wetlands!"
Reposting this blog history of Walker's Day One wetland-filling record
* 8/30: 
Donne said 'No man is an island.' Isthmus just found one.

Man on an island. Judith Davidoff photo also credited here.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

WisDOT undercuts Walker's claim of 'completed' [sic] Zoo Interchange

Who's not sick of having to use [Sic] when vetting Scott Walker claims?

You may remember he was being caught lying (my word) on Tuesday about Zoo Interchange reconstruction being completed. The Journal Sentinel editor had tweeted, as I'd posted: 
George Stanley noted:
Scott Walker declares Zoo Interchange is done, even as years of work remain via  
The paper's story and lede drove home the headline about which Stanley had tweeted:
Scott Walker declares Zoo Interchange is done, even as years of work remain
Gov. Scott Walker is doing the construction equivalent of moving the goalposts — except, in this case, they're orange traffic barrels.  
Walker on Monday celebrated the completion of the core of the Zoo Interchange, even though work on the interchange's north leg is behind schedule... 
“The Zoo Interchange Core is completed on time and on budget,” the GOP governor said in a statement. 
And, by the way, Walker's first tweet didn't include the "core" parsing he added a day later: From his 8/27 personal Twitter feed:

Good to be in Milwaukee for the completion of the Zoo interchange! We’re getting positive things done in Wisconsin!

So you gotta laugh at today's news release from WisDOT about the state of road construction projects - - 

- - this Labor day: 
To help accommodate traffic flow over the Labor Day weekend, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) will temporarily halt work on most highway construction projects around the state....
Highway construction projects that may affect holiday travel include:
  • Milwaukee County: adjoining projects around the Zoo Interchange continue with ongoing work on the west leg auxiliary lanes and Sunnyslope Road Bridge, the WIS 100 bridge over the Hank Aaron State Trail, and the I-894 resurfacing project. The additional southbound lane is expected to open in September.
Note that WisDOT added the interchange's west leg work and other incomplete segments to the north leg the paper said Walker had omitted to keep his parsed "core'" terminology spin intact. 

WisDOT knows that it does not "temporarily halt work projects" that are completed. 

Which is why WisDOT refers to work on the interchange among "Highway construction that may affect holiday travel" in the present tense, not past.

All in all, snort.

Donne said 'no man is an island.' Isthmus just found one.

A few comments on Dylan Brogan's must-read piece in the current Isthmus about flooding in Madison before I get to John Donne.

Brogan's reporting gets Walker on the record about climate change - - a rare feat in itself -- and exposes Walker's defensive, talking point superficiality on a matter he's dismissed that is contributing to tens of millions of dollars in repetitive events, and has again killed state residents.

Brogan wrote:
Marston Avenue resident Bob Spoerke spent the last week watching the Tenney Park lagoon creep up to the sidewalk in front of his house. He says he questioned the governor about the state Department of Natural Resources purging language on its website attributing climate change to human activities and rising levels of carbon dioxide. He also told the governor that climate change was real. 
“[Walker] looked at me and said ‘that’s your opinion.’ But climate change isn’t my opinion, it’s established fact,” says Spoerke. “I’ve been agitated ever since. There’s been two catastrophic floods in northern Wisconsin the past three years. These 100- and 500-year events are happening every few months.”
I was also happy to see Brogan bring the UW-Madison's Center for Limnology lab into the discussion, given its status in lake science and karmic proximity to the Madison area's flooding problems.
Emily Stanley, a professor at UW-Madison’s Center for Limnology, says the potential for flooding in the Madison area is nothing new. But she and other scientists warn that climate change could make severe storms — and, by extension, flooding — more common. 
“What’s different is double-digit inches of rainfall in such a short period of time,” she says. “When you add the water really, really quickly, it’s like if you eat Thanksgiving dinner in five minutes. It doesn’t feel the same as it would if you ate it over the course of a few hours.”
Like the DNR he has weakened, and the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts he disconnected from the DNR's climate change web page which Walker had censored, the Limnology resource is another state asset his corrosive lack of curiosity leaves unexamined to our collective harm.

I noted a bit of this a few months ago after Walker had posted what was essentially a tourist's photo of Lake Mendota on his twitter page, so I wrote:
That's the UW-Madison campus across the lake, to the west. You can't see it in the photo, of course, but on the campus shoreline sits an historic institution, the UW Center for Limnology. 
Limnology is the study of lakes; the science was basically founded on the UW Campus and Lake Mendota is often said to be the most-studied lake in the country. 
Lake Mendota is not just your run-of-the-mill lake among Wisconsin's 15,000. It's is a huge, unique climate change laboratory where experts examine the lake's temperature, depth, fish population, responses to climate change and other features widely studied for more than the postcard-pretty photo opportunity Walker liked to snap... 
And it was on the Limnology school's blog just over a year ago that UW professors blasted Walker's DNR for having scrubbed ciimate change data and science - - facts impacting Lake Mendota and other bodies of water in Wisconsin which Walker does not see or appreciate from official state websites - - and I will italicize what is most relevant right now among eight connected scientific and economic findings the experts had listed:
* Increases in extreme rain events are increasing runoff from farm fields into downstream waterways and lakes, reducing water quality. 
But the real gem, the must-memoralize keeper in Brogan's report, is how Walker tried to sucker a citizen into cursing the governor that would have been immediately amplified by the right-wing noise machine to distort and deflect the story away from climate science and flooding to 'bad liberal insults hard-working governor.'
Tom Kasper, a resident of Elizabeth Street, held a sign behind Walker that accused the governor of staging a photo op while ignoring climate change.
Another man biked up to Walker to confront him: “Gov. Walker, I want to say that your time and energy would be much better spent enacting policies to counteract climate change rather than shoveling sand into bags. Would you agree?”
“Glad you’re here. Thanks for watching,” replied Walker. “You can say what you want. You can call me a F-word if you want.”
“I’m not doing that,” the man countered. “I’m just saying climate change policy would be more effective than shoveling sand. Otherwise, you’ll be out here next year, too.”
You can see that the man on the bike did not take the bait. But because Walker had the trick at the ready, you can see just why in fact he is on John Donne's island.

And that it's of his own making.

And that it will take more than a shovel for him find his way off.

And may it help Donne's bell toll come election day.

Props again to Dylan Brogan and Isthmus for the outstanding report.
Man on an island. Judith Davidoff photo also credited here.

Walker declares statewide emergency; we've known that since Jan, 2011

Believe me, Wisconsin has been in a broader state of emergency since the day Walker was sworn in.

From his Act 10 "bomb" aimed at teachers and nearly all public employees, to take-home pay reductions he levied through the rest of his 'divide-and-conquer' right-to-work slams on private-sector workers, to years of funding cuts to K-12 programs and UW system budgets, to his many wetland-filling measures that today look as short-sighted as his broad, Koch brothers obeisant demolition of the DNR and its climate change science and other disciplines, to the gerrymandered legislature he approved and embedded with voting photo ID and other restrictions, to the Scottholed local roads he's ignored to the bigger roads he's underfunded like the Zoo Interchange which he's now plain lying about completing... 

To the polluted rivers he's doubled during his tenure, to the clean water inspections his managers failed to carry out, to the manure-brown water, or algae-stained blue-green water left for rural residents to drink or avoid, to the dirty air tolerated at Wausau near 3M to the southeastern lakeshore counties where the Feds agreed to Walker's request for weaker clean air standards...

To the people he's kicked off Badger Care, to the federal Medicaid money he turned back, to the federal Amtrak funding he turned back, to the federal broadband money he turned back, to the women's health services he's defunded, to the food aid he's cut, to the corrections programs he's botched at the expense of both inmate and staff safety, to the taxes he reduced for businesses and upper-income earners while raising them on lower-income residents in his first budget...

To the 250,000 new private sector jobs he repeatedly promised to create by January, 2015, and which he has not...

To the clean campaign procedures and oversight bodies he dismantled to the clean campaign laws he happily helped repeal...

To the income-draining-and-market-snuffing tariffs now punishing the state's dairy farmers, cheese exporters, grain farmers, breweries, food producers, motorcycle builders, metal buyers and fabricators, et al...

Provoked by the amoral, power-mad, clinically-narcissistic, profoundly-unqualified, Puerto Rico-abandoning, John McCain-disrespecting-even-in-death, inveterately-grifting, child snatching, Putin-admiring, dictator-worshipping, justice-obstructing, women-abusing, immigrant-bashing, white nationalist-encouraging, openly-racist Donald Trump whom Walker, unlike many GOP pols, endorsed in a speech to the 2016 Republican nominating convention and has timidly-and-repeatedly enabled for nearly two grindingly-embarrassing, downward-spiraling, democracy-killing years...

All the way to the grotesquely-subsidized, politically-inspired, P.R. driven, self-serving Hail Mary Foxconn con in a year-long-one-note siren song now moving 'forward' sapping 25 years of public investments, and moving 'forward' also through the use eminent domain private property seizures that make a mockery of traditional GOP 'principles' by Walker and his loyal group of top-down, 'small government', smaller-minded, special-interest, donor-obedient errand-runners and public finance fakes. 

The saving grace is that we can lift this state of GOP/Walker-installed, Donald-Trump-approved emergency this Nov. 6th and begin the long road back to the Wisconsin we had and still deserve.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Reposting this blog history about Walker's Day One wetland-filling record

Given all the flooding, and Walker's nearly-eight year attack on state waterways, it seems pertinent to repost this:

Right On Schedule, Walker Wants Certain Wetlands' Protections Eliminated

I had been calling Scott Walker's radical environmental approach the Cut It, Gut It, Pave it, Fill It plan.

[Update: Walker has signed a special wetland-filling bill for one of his donors after he'd already suspended the DNR's permit review which had held up the development.] 

Take a look at Item #6 of Walker's Special Session directive to the Legislature in Executive Order #1, as it will impact 1.6 million acres protected of non-federal wetlands, or 30% of the wetlands in Wisconsin:

"Relating to a Special Session of the Legislature

WHEREAS, the State of Wisconsin is in an economic emergency caused by years of mismanagement;

WHEREAS, the business climate in Wisconsin has for too long been stifled by burdensome regulation, taxes, and costly litigation; and

WHEREAS, the people of Wisconsin elected me Governor to help create a new, healthy, and vibrant climate for private sector job creation;

NOW THEREFORE, I, Scott Walker, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, pursuant to Article IV, Section 11, and Article V, Section 4 of the Wisconsin Constitution, do hereby require the convening of a special session of the Legislature at the Capitol in Madison beginning at 10:00 a.m. on January 4, 2011, solely to consider and act upon legislation relating to the following:

"÷6. The authority of a state agency to promulgate rules interpreting the provisions of a statute enforced or administered by the agency and to implement or enforce any standard, requirement, or threshold as a term or condition of a license issued by the state agency; gubernatorial approval of proposed administrative rules; economic impact analyses of proposed rules and emergency rules; and venue in a declaratory judgment action seeking judicial review of the validity of an administrative rule and in an action in which the sole defendant is the state; exemptions from water quality certification and wetland mitigation requirements for certain nonfederal wetlands that are less than two acres in size; requirements for wind energy systems, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and granting rule-making authority; "

As the Wisconsin Wetlands Association sees it:

alert logo bar
Urgent: Wisconsin's isolated wetlands threatenedWalker Administration proposes rollback in protection as part of special session
January 4, 2011

Dear Wetland Advocate,
On Day 1 of his administration, Governor Walker released an Executive Order that calls for "exemptions from water quality certification and wetland mitigation requirements for certain non-federal wetlands that are less than two acres in size" (see item 6 in the Executive Order). In other words, Governor Walker wants to make it easier for developers and industry to destroy isolated wetlands in hopes of creating jobs.
We do not know the extent of what's proposed because the administration has not yet released the language, but the intent is clearly to remove protections for at least some, maybe all, isolated wetlands.
This news is disheartening and alarming. In 2001Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to enact state protections for isolated wetlands (2001 WI Act 6) afterfederal protections were unexpectedly removed following a Supreme Court decision (SWANCC). The public strongly supported isolated wetland protections, and the bill passed both houses of the legislature with unanimous support.
We will share the proposed wetland protection rollback language as soon as it is available; however, we expect the bill to move quickly upon introduction so it is critical that we mobilize now.
The only way to slow this down is to make it clear that an overwhelming majority of Wisconsin citizens oppose wetland destruction under most circumstances.

In This Alert
Who should care about destruction of isolated wetlands?Which wetlands may be affected and where? Here's how you can help Who to contact What to say

Which wetlands may be affected and where?

We won't know for sure how many wetlands are in jeopardy until we see the bill. What we do know from an analysis done by the Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) in 2001 is that an estimated 30% of all wetlands in the state are considered non-federal or "isolated wetlands." Of even greater concern is that the distribution of isolated wetlands is uneven across the state. So, for example, the estimated percentage of isolated wetlands exceeds 30% of all wetlands in at least 26 counties and exceeds 50% in Ashland, Dane, Forest, Green, Iron, and Rock counties.

Here's how you can help

1. Call and write Governor Walker and your representatives in the state senate and state assembly today to tell them you oppose removal of protections for isolated wetlands and expect them to solicit public input before passing any legislation that weakens wetland protection. (See below for contact info and additional talking points.)
2. Forward this alert (and the more detailed one to follow) to as many individuals and organizations as you can and urge them to do the same.
3. Consider making a special contribution to the Wisconsin Wetlands Association or other conservation organizations that are involved in efforts to protect Wisconsin's wetland heritage.

Other wetland-focused organizations that helped enact our current wetland protection laws include: Ducks Unlimited,Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, and the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association.

A list of other state and local organizations that have or may stand up for wetland protections can be found on the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters' website here.

Who to contact

Click here to find contact information for your State Senator and State Representative.
Click here to find contact information for Governor Walker*
Submit "citizen suggestions" on how wetland protection and economic development can coexist to Governor Walker's office using this response form.
* Note - as of this morning (1/4) the contact information posted is still for the Walker transition team and transition office.

What to say

Dear Governor Walker and Senator/Representative X:

  1. I use (e.g., hunt, fish, paddle, birdwatch), enjoy and value Wisconsin's wetlands and want to see them protected.
  2. I supported passage of state legislation to protect isolated wetlands in 2001 and still support that law today.
  3. The isolated wetlands law (2001 WI Act 6) passed both houses unanimously in a Republican controlled legislature and was signed by a Republican Governor. Overturning those protections today is akin to breaking a promise with the public.
  4. Because of the controversial nature of this proposal, it should not be pushed through without public input.At a minimum, legislative hearings should be held.
  5. It would be irresponsible of this administration and legislature to weaken state wetland protection laws without a full understanding of how many wetlands, of what type, and where, are likely to be destroyed. Time should also be allowed for an analysis of the potential environmental effects of the proposal. Your decision(s) should be based on the results of that analysis.
  6. Economic development and wetland protection can co-exist. Though some wetland loss is to be expected, in the vast majority of cases it is not necessary to destroy wetlands to create jobs.

Who should care about destruction of isolated wetlands?

  • Duck hunters
  • Upland game hunters (75% of all wildlife species in the state depend on wetlands for some portion of their lifecycle)
  • Anglers, paddlers, bird watchers, photographers
  • Citizens living in flood-prone communities
  • Families who care about clean water
  • Farmers and others concerned about changing land use
  • Amphibian lovers (frogs and salamanders depend upon isolated, fish-free wetlands for breeding)
  • People who care about the fate of threatened and endangered plants and animals (33% of all threatened and endangered species in Wisconsin rely on wetlands)
In short, all the citizens of Wisconsin should care about isolated wetlands, because no matter who you are or where you live, wetlands benefit your life.