Sunday, October 21, 2018

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment, Part 8. Dirty air.

This 21-part retrospective series I'd promised will run with daily updates, ending prior to the Nov. 6 election. This is Part 8.

Much of the series has dealt with various water issues, but in this installment, I want to focus on policies Walker and his agencies have instituted that leave plenty of Wisconsin residents with unhealthy air to breathe. 

And knowing that what goes up - - air pollution emissions - - comes back down to earth and often in the water - - there's another scientific fact which Walker and the pollution party he represents have dismissed.
Smoke stacks from a factory.
And, as I pointed out with Walker's multiple attacks on clean water and particularly wetlands - - those natural water filters which minimize flooding, something Wisconsin has repeatedly suffered in the last few years - - his anti-science, pro-air-polluter policies began early in his tenure.

After Walker installed 
atop the air management section at his 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR a top official representing industries which had long campaigned for relaxed air pollution standards, the DNR eliminated a public health service it had been offering: early notifications about deteriorating air quality that could help seniors, children, people with heart and lung problems and even people planning strenuous outdoor activities avoid potentially-harmful  exposure to particulates that are not always visible.

But industry's attitude towards air pollution can be, 'let's not draw attention to about it especially if you can't always see it,' and the action set the stage for further dismissive actions about air pollution, including exemptions for SE air quality management to suit Foxconn, litigation against Obama air quality initiatives and penalty-free 'enforcement' for pollution violations by the huge multinational corporation 3M.  

More about that later.

Two months after Walker was sworn in, I wrote this:

Walker administration will stop publishing some air quality information
Remember that Pat Stevens, a lawyer who worked for the road-builders, home-builders and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, is now managing the agency's air quality section.

This is the email text...
As of March 15, 2011, the Wisconsin DNR will no longer issue Air Quality Watches for ozone and particle pollution due to limited staff resources and the potential increase in the number of air quality notices under proposed revisions to federal air standards.

In the past, an air quality watch was issued when conditions were favorable for pollutants to reach unhealthy levels. 
Watches are also being eliminated due to their confusion with Air Quality Advisories which are issued when pollution concentrations actually reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.

Air quality notices are issued as a public service by the DNR in partnership with the National Weather Service. They are not mandated by rule or law.

The DNR will continue to issue Air Quality Advisories when ozone and particle pollution levels are over or expected to reach the federal air quality standard.
That's what you get when the state's major public resource management agency becomes a defacto Department of Commerce. 

Here is Part 7 of this series, published October 20, 2018.


Anonymous said...

Don't forget, Walker appointed Jake Curtis, formerly of the WI Institute for Law and Liberty as Chief Legal Counsel for DNR. WILL brought a suit against EPA to roll back air quality regulations. From the WILL website: "May 1, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – Today, in a major victory for Wisconsin and federalism, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decided to significantly rollback the geographic scope of its proposed “nonattainment” areas, partially reversing its position from last year. Since the inception of its Center for Competitive Federalism (CCF), WILL has been on the frontlines in battling EPA overreach and expansion of its “no growth” zones."

Jake Curtis was appointed to DNR to insure that environmental regulations are weakened and that business interests get what they want.

James Rowen said...

That hire was reported on this blog when it happened. Here is the link.