Thursday, November 15, 2018

Walker dumping lawsuits, policy failures on incoming DNR

Call it the people's well, poisoned.

Unless the wheels of justice suddenly shift to supersonic, incoming Tony Evers' appointees will find that Walker's outgoing 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR left behind a raft of unfinished business, litigation and fewer experts on staff to assess issues and transparently resolve them, including:

*  The relentless spread of chronic wasting disease in the state deer herd during Walker's tenure, exacerbated by his allegiance to deer farming and canned shooting businesses, ineffective prevention measures and even reduced carcass testing. 
Coincidentally, the 2018 gun deer hunting season begins Saturday.

* Multiple challenges to the Foxconn project dealing with local property takings, air emission and water diversion approvals and actions flowing from state and local officials in Illinois. Here is a full archive from this blog about Foxconn, including this item summarizing some of the pending litigation: 

Here are links to some of the main environmental issues, and the thread running through them is obvious: favors were given away to Foxconn by Walker and the Legislature, but the basic resources involved - - clean air and water - - belong to the people and are supposed to be protected for the people by their trustee: the state and the DNR.
Filling wetlands, streams and lakes.  
More extensive clean air exemptions. 
Quick water diversion approval. 
Quick air emissions approvals. 
Routine environmental impact statement mocked, waived.
...And Team Walker keeps cheering the dislocation along, and hoping you don't ask whether this is all a little premature, given local litigation over private property seizures, the pending and unresolved challenge to the Lake Michigan diversion because of the risk it poses to the integrity and value of the Great Lakes Compact, the opposition in Illinois in several jurisdictions over surface and wastewater concerns and a separate challenge to the air emission permits, and so on.
* Four legal actions triggered by the issuance by state agencies of a wetlands permit, permission to acquire state parkland, and a quickie land annexation - - all to help a key Walker donor build a controversial, privately-owned golf course along Lake Michigan in Sheboygan County. 

Here is one blog post with some of the project's history and a summary local news story laying out the legal challenges.

*  Repetitive extreme rain events and damaging, fatal floods routinely predicted by climate change science which steadfastly Walker refused to respect and his DNR wiped from its webpages.

*  And the groundwater is either being depleted by overpumping greenlit by the DNR and outgoing Attorney General Brad Schimel, or is being polluted by fast-expanding large cattle feeding operations with intentionally-weakened 'regulation' by the state.

A summary piece about that is here.
The DNR used to make it easy to see in a single chart how and where CAFOs were expanding, but that chart no longer exists.
Hey, if the DNR was willing to run five CAFO permit hearings past citizens in a single day, imagine how much staff time it would take to keep updating that chart.
It's also no surprise that the DNR would keep showing disinterest as documented by state auditors in making sure rural well water wasn't also a repository for cattle waste.

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