Monday, February 25, 2019

Vos water task force stars Republicans weak on pollution

You may remember that WI GOP Assembly Speaker and eager-beaver shadow governor Robin Vos threw together a water quality task force stacked 13-3 in favor of Republicans to pre-empt Gov. Evers' plans to begin addressing water pollution which Vos and Team Walker had either ignored or enabled for the last eight years.

Said Vos, in a news release, thus not risking choking in public on the platitudes:

Wisconsinites deserve to have safe, clean and healthy water,” said Speaker Vos...The task force has been asked to make recommendations on assessing and improving the quality of surface water and groundwater. 
Let's take a closer look at that and to whom Vos is assigning it.

Do you remember that WI GOP legislators rolled back consensus-driven phosphorous-discharge and pollution-prevention rules

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency granted the state a waiver in response to requests from Republican lawmakers that will allow manufacturers and sewage treatment plants to be exempt from the standards for 10 years if they pay fees to help cut pollution that rain carries off farm fields, which is one of the main sources of phosphorus pollution.
And later, that 31 WI GOP legislators had also, in writing, asked:
...the federal government to help ease regulations of phosphorus discharge into lakes and streams, saying complying with the standards is too expensive for small municipalities.
So it was no surprise that the most recent required assessment of state rivers and streams showed a huge jump in phosphorous-linked impairment. 
Every two years, Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act requires states to publish a list of all waters that are not meeting water quality standards. In the proposed 2018 list update, DNR proposes to add 242 new waterbody segments. A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria. Thirty-five waterbodies are proposed to be delisted.
In fact, when reporting last year on these data, I noticed the DNR had to add two more water bodies to its already skyrocketing list:

So allowing for some portion of the total to have taken place in one year of the Doyle era, and also allowing for some late changes, the cumulative numbers in these reports which encompass most of Walker's tenure show the addition of 804 newly listed polluted waterways to the "more than 700" cited in 2012. 
The additions, 804, outpaced deletions, 96, by a ratio of more than eight-to-one, and leaves Walker with about double what he inherited.
Now, to the question of the day:

Do you expect genuine, comprehensive action from Vos' hand-picked, Republican-heavy task force if there are five appointees who signed that letter for the federal waiver from phosphorous-pollution rules - -  including the Vis-Designated chairman, among its 13 GOP members? 

Matching up the task force membership, here, with the signatories to the water waiver letter here - - and props to the Wisconsin State Journal for publishing the names ion a sidebar - -  find these overlapping Vos appointees:

GOP State Reps Robert Brooks, Mary Fetzkowski, Andre Jacque, Travis Tranel and chairman Tod Novak. 

Those five alone outnumber the task force's three Democrats.

You could call that the implications of divided government.

Or you could call out special-interest water carrying when you see it, like this 2016 summary wherein Vos and his GOP allies make their appearances :
What the stubborn, anti-federal government-admit-no-error Walker won't do is enforce the Clean Water Act, as he could achieve with a simple memo to the DNR, and as the feds told him in 2011, in writing, that he should do because Wisconsin's adherence to the law on his watch was deficient in 75 wide-ranging categories:
Attorney Dennis M. Grzezinski of Midwest Environmental Advocates, which represented a Green Bay environmental group in [a] Georgia-Pacific case, found the EPA's laundry list of concerns troubling. "The fact they found 75 problems ought to be amazingly alarming," Grzezinski said. "This is certainly one of the most dramatic statements I have seen from the EPA..."
All this while the number and scale of big feedlots rapidly expands in the state - - 50 in 2000, 263 today and 90+% are dairy operations, more DNR data show - -  and the DNR, with permission from Attorney General Brad Schimel upon request of GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos who got his marching orders in a hand-delivered letter from Big Ag, is not setting limits on the amount of ground water these animal feeding and other large agricultural business can extract.
Walker, Vos, Schimel, Big Ag, all lined up against the public health, clean water, adherence to federal law, and common sense.
And is it a coincidence that some of the recent DNR's big water withdrawal permits have gone to large-scale Scott Waller campaign donors?
Water in - - manure, urine and contamination out - - to seep into nearby wells, lakes, and rivers downhill and downstream.
Helped along by 'regulators' in Wisconsin who do not follow state rules in pollution control 90% of the time, a non-partisan Legislative review recently found.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Meetings for this committee are public. There are currently no meetings scheduled. If you would like notification of upcoming meetings, subscribe to email alerts here:

And I agree. Nothing of note will come of this. If you are concerned, write your legislators.