Monday, December 31, 2018

Foxconn's water diversion and discharge is important, because...

Lake Michigan is both plentiful and finite, and sustains life in the United States and Canada, where it is held in trust for all the people. 

Which is why there is fresh multi-national concern.
Mayors from Great Lakes cities have united with leaders from First Nations communities to criticize proposed new rules for approving Great Lakes water withdrawals.
The Anishinabek Nation, a political advocacy group representing 40 First Nations communities in Ontario, has joined forces with the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative, made up of mayors from the Great Lakes region. The groups are concerned about proposed new procedures for approving water withdrawal requests under the Great Lakes Compact, the agreement governing the removal of water from the Great Lakes basin.
Hence the Wisconsin-based litigation.

Here is one post about Foxconn that dates to the beginning, and has about 275 separate items.

Take a look from the Milwaukee shoreline at what is at risk.

Having already twisted the law, Vos chooses now to ignore one

The Robin Vos Overreach Sideshow is getting a more extensive run.

No one who has watched the partisan little dictator
Picture of Representative Robin Vos
degrade law-making in the Assembly he helped gerrymander and sell in 2012 - - 
Madison - Rep. Robin Vos acknowledged Wednesday that talking points were created for him last year that told Republicans to ignore public comments on new election maps.
- - should be surprised that now he's moved to pretending there is no law when it suits his partisan needs at public expense.

Speaker Robin Vos won't release $850,000 contract with law firm in Wisconsin gerrymandering case

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos won't make public a legal contract that will cost taxpayers $850,000, despite a state law meant to ensure government records are widely available. 
I stand by my prediction that Vos' egomaniacal grandiosity and grasp after power far above his pay grade and mettle will not end well politically.

Vos should be looking hard at Scott Walker's fate. 

There are plenty of reasons for his upset loss, from eight years of Walker fatigue to the Foxonnn albatross he willingly strapped on, but at the top of the list is the fallout from Walker's ill-fated, ego-driven, image-crushing run for the Presidency away from the state and job he purportedly loved.

The presidential overreach exposed Walker as too far in over his head and unable to stay afloat while everyone else knew he would go under.

Vos has already begin to overplay a hand he dealt to himself from a deck he helped to stack and fix.  

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Fair weather Packer fan tweets oddly-self referential GIF

Your 'Governor' King of Juvenilia at 'work.' And after six seven eight hours, only 13 retweets; no surprise. 

Could also apply to a certain Governorship, political career, Grand Plan, etc. And note he tweeted it @Packers, to the organization.

The comments are, well, as expected. I liked this one:

Can’t they change the rules or something?
And this one:
Well then the next logical step is to jettison the campaign outfits you wore to look like Relatable Wisconsin Guy - including your self-personalized jersey.  
The season:

Of media and Wisconsin cabinets

As Governor-elect Tony Evers chooses his cabinet, GOP legislative leaders have harrumphed.

"Greatly disappointed" with the number of appointees with Milwaukee addresses, said GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos. And no one consulted me, suggested GOP senior hall monitor and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

It occurred to me that everyone is missing the most significant story about Wisconsin cabinets, and I don't mean the one to which Jim Stingl applied his deft fine tooth comb before the Chicago Tribune picked up the story.

I'm talking about the four former Walker cabinet members who went after him  with unprecedented public condemnations before the election:
[Three of the] former officials said they will not be voting for Walker because of his record on transportation, education and safety issues, "pervasive questionable practices within the administration" and how state matters were handled while Walker sought the presidency. 
One of them, former Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Wall, even wrote a book about his experience, and the title tips off the author's message:
Unethical: Life in Scott Walker's Cabinet and the Dirty Side of Politics

Vos and Fitzgerald might give some thought to the relationship between those events, the voters' rejection of Walker and their on-the-Legislative-outside-looking-in dejection as Evers names the next cabinet.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Again, and again, MN leaves WI in the dust

Compare these two stories on back-to-back from neighboring Upper Midwestern states:

Minnesota set to see second consecutive year of strong solar energy growth
Minnesota is set for a second consecutive year of strong growth for solar energy, anchored by a 23 percent increase in the size of the state’s community solar garden program. 
Developers in the state also are on track to add at least four larger “utility scale” solar arrays in coming years. Each would be bigger than the state’s largest existing solar development near North Branch, which provides power to Xcel Energy. 
Lack of clarity on state law could hinder solar projects, and limit competition
For several months now, solar panels and other equipment have been sitting in a warehouse owned by the City of Milwaukee. 
The idea was to add solar power to seven city buildings, saving money while moving a step closer toward meeting the city's long-term environmental goals. 
The project, set to begin last fall, was put on hold after We Energies refused to connect it to the utility's system, contending that the project is illegal under state law.
And, yes, we've seen these contrasts before, whether related to climate change. or economic growth, or health care costs, outcomes and accessibility.

Walker's hostility to alternative energy and other benefits to the environment are catalogued  by the dozens, here, and in a recently-concludes blog series, here - - despite his propagandizing 'our legacy.'

Final thought, per this Thursday story in CityPages, the authoritative Minneapolis alternative weekly:
Scott Walker’s parting gift: A corporate welfare deal costing each Wisconsin taxpayer $1,800
Dear resident of Hudson, River Falls, and beyond: Move to Minnesota. Now. If you fail to heed this warning, you will be paying for Gov. Scott Walker’s ineptitude for years to come.
As this Wisconsinite did - - with the argument and data to boot - -  and is not looking back:
Hey, Wisconsin, Move to Minnesota 
I am a Milwaukee native and a graduate of J.I. Case High School in Racine, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a graduate of the great urban planning graduate program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee... I love beer, brats and the Green Bay Packers. I am so Wisconsin.
I love Wisconsin, but, like many ex-Wisconsinites who have landed and settled in Minnesota, I know there is no way I am going to move back to my home state.

Good riddance, Walker.

Friday, December 28, 2018

There's widespread mercury pollution in WI. Trump would add to it.

Trump wants to make it easier for coal-fired plants in the US to belch out more mercury 
Smoke stacks from a factory.
which will add more of that terrifying toxin to the water we drink and the fish we eat.

Even the pro-industry managers in clean-air opponent Scott Walker's DNR have posted warnings about mercury contamination and fish consumption:
Health impactsIndividuals exposed to mercury are most likely exposed to the organic species of this chemical (e.g., methylmercury). Human health effects associated with methylmercury include severe neurological disorders in infants exposed during pregnancy. Children exposed to mercury may suffer from developmental problems and damage to the kidneys and digestive system. The nervous system is very sensitive to all forms of mercury. Symptoms include irritability, shyness, tremors, changes in vision or hearing and memory problems. 
Exposure to the vapors can cause effects such as lung damage, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, increases in blood pressure or heart rate, skin rashes and eye irritation. 
Bioaccumulation and biomagnification 
Mercury is particularly toxic to living organisms because it bioaccumulates. Bioaccumulation is the process by which organisms take up a contaminant more rapidly than their bodies can eliminate it. Thus, mercury accumulates in the body over time. If mercury is continually ingested it can build up to toxic levels.Mercury becomes even more hazardous to organisms higher in the food chain because it biomagnifies. 
Biomagnification is the incremental increase in a contaminant's concentration at each level of the food chain. For example, humans eat large fish, which eat lots of small fish, which eat lots of plants. Mercury bioaccumulates in every organism along the way, and the human will ingest all of the mercury accumulated during each step. 
Eating fish 
Although some human exposure to mercury is short-term due to mercury-containing equipment breakage and spills (acute exposure), most human exposure occurs through regular consumption of fish contaminated with methylmercury (chronic exposure). Wisconsin has issued a statewide fish consumption advisory for all inland waters due to mercury contamination.
Earlier this year, I posted information which is still on a US EPA website about the extent of waterway impairment in Wisconsin as of 2016, including impairment caused by mercury, and I noted this at the time.
I was struck by the persistent presence of mercury and the growth of phosphorous contamination in the few categories I pulled out - - the latter not surprising because under Walker the state relaxed the time frame in which phosphorous discharges were to be addressed.
Here are some of the key data about known mercury contamination in Wisconsin - - and since we know what goes out of smokestacks comes down - - so you have to ask yourself in light of Trump's support for making it more likely that these and other numbers nationally will go up: Isn't this enough?

, Rivers and streams, Mercury.

Great Lakes Shorelines, miles, 259.4.

Lakes, reservoirs and ponds acres, 284,275.

Bays and estuaries, Square miles, 6,067.


The Journal Sentinel carried an AP story on the Trump rule rollback which puts it this way; how do you feel about it? Are you worth it? Is your kid?
The Trump administration on Friday targeted an Obama-era regulation credited with helping dramatically reduce toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants, with officialssaying human health and environmental benefits may not be worth the cost of the regulation.

Evers can boost DNR, public policies with enhanced climate science focus

Incoming House Democrats will have a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.
The "crisis" name is a clear nod to the mounting scientific findings about the ongoing and expected harms that will unfold without steep worldwide emissions cuts.
Team Evers with a similar move - - or through statements followed by serious hires and actions - - could send a strong message to Walker's mismanaged Wisconsin, the Midwest, where we're lagging and to the country that Wisconsin has the experts - - right in Madison - - who can move our state from climate change denier and environmental outlier to leader. 

Walker had his 'chamber of commerce mentality'-driven DNR, with the predictable consequences; we need a 'climate change crisis' mentality atop the agency.

Dane County in one of Wisconsin's predicted, repetitive and increasingly damaging and fatal floods in recent years.

Walker's PolitiFact record leans to false

This is what happens when you have a governor whose eight years in office are bookended by a secret email system and stashed staffers on the public payroll that helped him get there and a secretly-crafted power grab engineered by different operatives as he departs.

We can all disagree with the ratings and specific findings, but, for the record, throw out the middle-ground "half true" category (since it could also be called 'half false,' and Walker's "mostly false," "false" and "pants-on-fire" PolitiFact ratings still make up the biggest, summary finding.
Here’s the breakdown on the Truth-for-Meter for Walker’s 196 fact checks:
True: 13 percent
Mostly True: 22 percent
Half True: 19 percent
Mostly False: 19 percent
False: 21 percent
Pants on Fire: 6 percent

Thursday, December 27, 2018

As prognosticator, and rocket scientist, Vos was a dud

Noted the other day that Walker claimed to have met his 250,000-new jobs pledge - - four years late.

Reminded me of this related analysis from 2012, FUBAR by the now-WI GOP Assembly Speaker who would now also be King: 

RACINE – Once June 5 hits and Gov. Scott Walker is securely re-elected, “our economy is going to take off like a rocket,” state Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said Monday during a meeting with The Journal Times Editorial Board.
Robin Vos speaks at Racine Tea Party event (8378614585).jpg
Not a rocket scientist
Walker had also predicted around the same time that hiring would "takeoff," so both officials had let their rhetoric take flight.

Clean WI fights government-approved Sheboygan County dirty air

This is why I put Clean Wisconsin on a recent list of groups which need our support.
Group challenges EPA's bid to give factory-rich Sheboygan County reprieve on air quality
See the pattern developing? - - 
Smoke stacks from a factory.

Illinois officials sue over Foxconn air permits 

- - as Walker with his 'chamber of commerce mentality' leaves the state dirtier - 
Walker dumping lawsuits, policy failures on incoming WI DNR 
- - than he'd found it - - good laugh, here

And is also leaving behind intentionally weakened legal and administrative remedies through the lame-duck power grab which will block and grid-lock efforts to effect the cleanup:
Democrats say the legislation will spark lawsuits across multiple courts...Republicans would almost certainly pursue appeals all the way to the state Supreme Court, which is controlled by conservative justices.
Think about the environment degradation Walker is leaving behind, whether the chronic deer wasting disease epidemic, rampant waterway pollution, animal-waste and chemical laden groundwater contamination. inadequate flood-prevention infrastructure, unsafe air and special interest, donor-drive privilege, all related to corruption of science and public agendas - - given attention in this series.
Walker's eight-year war on Wisconsin's environment. In 21 parts, one post, full story.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Infant's death, contaminated water, eligible for WI legacy scorecards

Walker has been framing his legacy: any room for this?

From the Minnesota Star Tribune comes this heartbreaking, infuriating story about the all-too-familiar water quality issues in rural Wisconsin's Central Sands:
WATER PRESSURE second in a three-part series
Wis. residents take on state and powerful ag industry
In central Wisconsin, the conflict is driven largely by the proliferation of giant irrigation rigs that arc over mile after mile of flat farm fields. They make this one of the nation’s most productive farm states, with $88 billion a year in sales from food and food processing.
To many neighbors, however, they create an untenable drain on water that is tearing communities apart.
People in the Village of Plover, Wis., saw their favorite trout stream dry up, leaving thousands of dead fish for the raccoons. Nearby, recreational lakes ringed with summer homes have periodically shriveled into wetlands over the past 15 years, depressing property values and pitting lakeshore owners against the state government in a lawsuit over the meaning of public trust.
And Celina Stewart, a young mother in the tiny town of Nekoosa, lost an infant daughter to a fatal brain malformation that has been associated with high levels of nitrate, a fertilizer byproduct found in the community’s drinking water. Her tragedy led to a community well testing program this year, which found that 40 percent of the homes had nitrate concentrations that, like hers, were far above the legal limit. 
(Note that the story above is part 2 of a three-part series. Here is Part 1 with a Minnesota dateline, so clearly the focus is regional.)

Tragic, unacceptable connections to this Wisconsin investigative disclosure dating to 2015:
Born a month early in the spring of 1999, Case 8 had been thriving on formula. But at three weeks old, when her family ran out of bottled water and started using boiled water from the household well at the dairy farm where they lived, she got sick. 
She was just 4 pounds, 10 ounces, when her parents brought her to a Grant County emergency room. Cold, pale and “extremely blue,” she was rushed by helicopter to a regional intensive care unit.
Nearly all of her red blood cells had lost the ability to carry oxygen, according to medical records Wisconsin public health officials summarized in the Wisconsin Medical Journal.
Two days after she fell ill with methaemoglobinaemia, or “blue baby syndrome,” water tests turned up the most likely culprit — high levels of nitrate.
I've been following these intolerable health risks and realities in rural Wisconsin for years - - with information plucked as recently as three days ago off a DNR news release:
WI rings out the year in a brownish sort of way

Another brown water event. Yes, in Brown County:
DNR confirms manure spill in Brown County 
- - and summarized, in part, a few weeks ago, here:
A collection of blog posts about Kewaunee, Central Sands CAFOs
Beginning with this May 5 item:
Contaminated Central Sands waters echo Kewaunee County concerns
Also including this July 30 posting,
WI Central Sands the next Flint? Kewaunee County already soaks up that honor.
And this July 24 posting about CAFO contamination in the Central Sands area:
Central Sands residents: call legislators, agencies about the water. Now.
And this July 19 posting: 
Where you can't drink the WI water. Or step in it.
And this recent installment about CAFOs in a series just concluded about Walker's 8-year war on the Wisconsin environment:
Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment. Part 9. CAFOs 
Echoed here:

Another day, another WI groundwater crisis story

This time we have fresh data that Big Ag is helping deplete the Little Plover River, a Class I trout stream. Which is not news.

Wisconsin's Little Plover River Running Low. Again.

Big agriculture and a DNR that lets corporations have their way with Wisconsin waters that belong to everyone are again enabling the same trout stream in Portage County to fall to worrisome levels:
The Little Plover runs about 6 miles before it empties into the Wisconsin River. It attracted national attention when parts of the river ran dry in 2005. American Rivers named the Little Plover one of the nation's 10 most endangered in an annual assessment in 2013.
It's a discouraging, infuriating, repetitive story.

The River Alliance of Wisconsin cites the River's situation as a warning about the consequences of state water misuse; I posted last year some of the Alliance' Little Plover photos, below, and mentioned the river's problems in a summary blog post from last May that included more than a dozen links cataloguing the many threats to public waters in Wisconsin.

Scott Walker and his party's obeisance to businesses which think the state's groundwater and surface water are theirs to deplete, pollute and otherwise expropriate have only intensified the state's water crisis.

River Alliance of Wisconsin photos

Dead Brookie

Bucky's little Trump and 10 things they share

[Updated, so we're up to about 15 now] 

There's a lot of Trump in Walker. Vice versa, too. Here's a quick 10:

1. Trump shut down the government, Walker shut down key executive powers for the incoming governor. Both are authoritarian overreaches.

2. Trump fired his Attorney General, Walker hamstrung the next state Attorney General through the same lame-duck bill - - now law - - that weakens Democratic Governor-elect Tony Evers.

3. Trump is blindly enabled by GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, while Walker has been similarly enabled by GOP State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald.

4. Trump had Ryan Zinke torch the environment at the Department of the Interior and Scott Pruitt do the same at the US EPA  - - and continued by equally compliant, pro-industry fill-ins. Walker had former home builder Cathy Stepp and a clutch of water-carrying senior staffers and replacements to implement similar, pro-polluter agendas. Close that loop with Stepp's appointment by Trump to oversee the EPA's Great Lakes regional office.

5. Trump is withdrawing federal protections for waterways - - and the environment, broadly.

While Walker rolled back phosphorous discharge rules and manure runoff enforcement. And Walker also signed legislation releasing 100,000 wetland acres from state protections, exempted Foxconn from routine wetland, legal and environmental procedures - - all part of his broad attack on the environment, summarized here
Hence this 21-part series"Walker's 8-year war on the Wisconsin environment" -  covering clean water, fresh air, critical wetlands, public trust wildlife, science, information, expertise, budgets and basic transparent fairness - - will close out today, a week before voters decide whether Walker's war on the environment ends after eight years, or runs to an even dozen.
6. Trump is weakening clean air rules and boosting coal-fired electrical generation, while Walker joined litigation against federal clean air initiatives and got Pruitt to exempt enough of SE Wisconsin from toughened air quality rules so Foxconn could emit extra thousands of tons of air pollution annually: 
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has sided with Wisconsin officials by sharply limiting areas that will come under stricter federal ozone regulations to small strips of land along Lake Michigan.
7. Trump's cabinet secretaries have deleted climate change from official websites and plans, as did Walker's DNR, to serve special interests.

Both men have watched passively while major cities flooded repeatedly as the climate warms and storms intensify. - - just as state and federal experts have been warning for years.
As rainfall intensifies, cities prepare for more stormwater
Between the afternoon of August 20, 2018, and the next morning, 14.7 inches of rain fell on Cross Plains. Homes, businesses, bridges and parks were washed out along streets, rivers and ponds. It took six days for the main highway out of town to reopen.
The August 20 event in Cross Plains and western Dane County was deemed a 1-in-1,000-year event, which means that a rainstorm of that magnitude historically has a 0.1 percent chance of occurring in a given year.
But we didn’t get a break anytime soon. Unrelenting storms rolled through southern Wisconsin for three weeks...
Wisconsin isn’t the only place getting wetter
Intensifying rainfall is a well-documented climate change trend. Across the country, local governments are making infrastructure investments in the hopes of preparing for more water.
But planning for stormwater is challenging when the rainfall probabilities that planners and engineers once relied on to design infrastructure are no longer accurate. Wisconsin, for example, experienced historic flooding in 20082013, and 2016, in addition to 2018. Probabilities based on long-term averages don’t necessarily capture what can be expected from future – or even current – storms.
* On June 8, 2008, in the early months of this blog, I posted this:
In 2003, EPA predicted heavier rain events 
8. Trump never had his infrastructure week, day, month, year or nanosecond, and Walker is leaving behind state roads pockmarked with 'Scottholes' and a transportation budget soaked in debt.
Walker and Trump have been busy digging their own holes, too.

9. Trump pledged to go around the just-passed farm bill and order food stamp cutoffs to some low-income recipients, while Walker got Trump to grant him that same authority - - which Walker's enabling little men in the Legislature just made law through their lame-duck power grabbing bill.

10 Trump is pledged to destroy Obamacare, while Walker gave the Attorney General unenthusiastic permission to join the lawsuit aimed at overturning Obamacare - - which a federal judge just just did, so a win-win for both Trump and Walker.

Omitted for space considerations: hostility to Planned Parenthood, addiction to NRA money, predilection for NRA money with Russian attachments, and, of course, comfort in the Greater Palm Beach/Mar-a-Lago area, where the Walker donors also hang out, etc.
Walker raises $200,000 for recall at Palm Beach event
And here's a bonus, summary similarlity. 

Walker may have escaped the reach of prosecutors, and Trump and his inner circle are already not that lucky - - but each put themselves there through bad decisions and weak character.

For the record, some earlier iterations on this post, here and all the way back to January, 2017, here:
The dirty air trail pumped out of Trump Tower and soon from a ruined US Environmental Protection [Sic] Agency long ago settled over Scott Walker's "chamber of commerce mentality" state government in Wisconsin.

So media covering the nomination hearing of climate change denier and right-wing GOP Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as administrator of the EPA should take a look at the formerly progressive state of Wisconsin, and Earth Day founder and former Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Gaylord Nelson.

That's where right-wing GOP Governor, ALEC captive and Koch brothers' darling Walker has created the kind of corporately-slavish, de-regulated anti-science state which incoming President Donald Trump is embracing.
Trump at lectern before backdrop with elements of logo "TRUMP"

Walker has installed dedicated climate change deniers atop both the Department of Natural Resources - - where clean air and water are supposed to be protected - - and at the Public Service Commission - - where energy policies are implemented.

At the DNR, the cave-in on climate science is a mixture of willful ignorance and Walker mission creep, while the PSC is chaired at Walker's behest by utility-friendly Phil Montgomery, a right-wing former state lawmaker once named the ALEC "Legislator of the Year."

That Koch brothers/fossil fuels addicted circle in Wisconsin is closed by right-wing GOP Attorney General Brad Schimel, who joined with Walker's approval with both the Wisconsin PSC and DNR to sue the EPA over clean air rules, joining litigation initiated by Pruitt.