Monday, July 29, 2019

Walker's ex-DNR officials - now at Trump's EPA - aim mischief, sleaze at Boundary Waters

Cathy Stepp pollution-and-scandal alert.

Remember Cathy Stepp and her deputy who ran Scott Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality' WI DNR?
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Cathy Stepp proudly shows off her first deer, taken opening weekend last year. In the upcoming TV Special "Deer Hunt Wisconsin 2012, Stepp urges male hunters to take more girls and women hunting. "The secret's out," she says. "Hunting is a lot of fun, so don't keep it to yourselves."  photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR
I'd told you they were both at Trump's EPA Regional headquarters.

And remember I told you that put Stepp in a position to harm the pristine Boundary Waters.

And now look at what they've been up to there:

Stepp, a regional administrator for the EPA, is part of an investigation by the agency’s inspector general into how Minnesota awarded a permit in December to PolyMet Mining Co. which wants to build a $1 billion copper-nickel mine on 19,000 acres near Hoyt Lakes, Minn., near the North Shore of Lake Superior...
Stepp’s chief of staff, Kurt Thiede, who previously worked for her in Wisconsin, was asked in the Minnesota review to stall submitting written comments from the EPA on the proposed mine until after the period for submitting public comments had ended. That move in effect made those comments secret until environmental groups sued.


Anonymous said...

Additionally they issued a permit with no numerical values as to amounts of annual discharge of allowed of various pollutants. So basically a permit that says "Have a nice day". Also there was apparently shenanigans where things were done over the phone so there was no official record of the discussion for the file.

Katrina said...

Sounds a lot like the way things were run in WI under Stepp. No written records to make records requests less condemnatory.

nonquixote said...

Thanks James,

Though maybe not directly in the mix with this story, your April 23, 2019 Op Ed at Urban Milwaukee pointed to the other clean water obstructionist Russ Rasmussen who was also part of Stepp's entourage at the WI DNR and is famously linked in conversation with, at the numerous meetings I attended in NE WI's Karst region GOP Rep Joel Kitchens Sturgeon Bay, (can't find a single cup of water he's improved the quality of in five years) the GOP Chair of the Assembly Committee on the Environment. I believe there might have been two meetings of that Assembly committee this past session, and Kitchen's was a no-show at the recent Vos (very special) Task Force on Clean Water in Stevens Point.

(FYI and a slight bit OT) Sturgeon Bay political friends of Joel Kitchens appear to be searching for a test case precedent to challenge the state's founding public trust doctrine protecting public access to the waters of the state.

James Rowen said...

Thanks. Rasmussen shows up in one of the highlighted links: Not sure whathis job was meant to be other than retirement boosting.

Anonymous said...

Illinois joined other Midwestern state Farm Bureaus in a meeting last week with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp and her senior staff.

Lauren Lurkins, Illinois Farm Bureau’s director of natural and environmental resources, said the “very productive” meeting represents a continued effort to build better relationships with EPA. The meeting in Chicago included officials from Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin Farm Bureaus and 15 leaders from EPA Region 5.

Livestock, nutrient loss reduction and water-quality issues dominated the two-hour discussion, Lurkins said. EPA provided personnel updates and provided feedback on various issues.

Lurkins provided highlights of the meeting, including:

- EPA has realigned its structure to bring enforcement and compliance into a single division rather than having inspectors in multiple divisions. Michael Harris, acting director of the enforcement and compliance assurance division, attended and explained his new role.

- EPA has received many applications for a new ag adviser, who will report directly to Stepp. Lurkins said this position remains a priority for the regional administrator.

- The group discussed watershed implementation of nutrient practices and how each state tracks progress. They also discussed nutrient trading.

“In Illinois, we are involved in conversations with the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago and other major wastewater-treatment plants,” Lurkins said. “They have NPDES permit requirements that are the drivers for why our point-source community would be interested in trading.”

EPA’s Russ Rasmussen is in charge of nutrient trading at EPA, Lurkins said, who called him “a breath of fresh air.”

- Livestock discussion focused largely on how to educate Farm Bureau members. Lurkins explained the pilot project in Clinton County that is bringing “education to the farm gate.”

“They were very impressed with the fact that the Farm Bureau is ahead of the game and working to benefit the environment,” Lurkins said.

Although the meeting is over – the discussion isn’t. Next up: Farm visits and field days.

Lurkins said Stepp has accepted IFB’s invitation to attend a field day in Fulton County in July.

Yeah. I bet the Farm Bureau appreciates someone like Stepp who is willing to do their bidding and like Rasmussen who will do whatever she needs him to do.