Monday, September 30, 2019

Walker, Tiffany & Trump. Talk about a toxic trio.

There's your modern Republican party, in which Scott Walker is raising money for WI GOP State Sen. Tom Tiffany - - the long-time Walker water-carrier and eager Trump tool who's running in a special election for Congress up North.

I'll post excerpts from Walker's fund-raising pitch below, and when you read it remember that it was Tiffany who a) asked climate science scrubber Walker to get rid of WI DNR scientists, b) later sped a bill to Walker's desk opening more of Wisconsin to metallic mining after c) having agreed to be Walker's go-to Penokee mountain top removal legislative insider, as I'd earlier noted:
  • David Storey, lobbyist for Gogebic Taconite, sent e-mails to then-Rep. [and now State Sen.] Tom Tiffany, and Walker policy adviser Eileen Schoenfeldt that discussed forming a "response team" to combat negative PR once the final mining bill was released. Read the emails here:[blog note: the link is dead]
    I took a look at the emails among Storey, the Governor's staff and Tiffany; towards the end of the file there is a request for a meeting with Tiffany and then a thank-you from the lobbyist to Tiffany for getting "on board." 
    With further thanks from the lobbyist for Tiffany "agreeing to play an important role," to be that important "someone within the legislative process in a position to respond..." and "agree[ing] to your individual roles..."
From Walker's pro-Tiffany fund-raising pitch:

I was thrilled when Tom decided to run because he is exactly what we need in Congress now: a staunch conservative, proven reformer, and unapologetic Trump allyHe is ready to stand up and carry the conservative mantle for Wisconsin...

Once again, the eyes of the nation will be on the critical state of Wisconsin in what will be the first real test of 2020. The Democrats and liberal special interests will flood our state with money and attack ads in the hopes of seizing the early election year momentum...

Tom was a trusted ally when I was governor...In Washington, Tom will be a trusted ally for President Trump and his bold, conservative agenda. He will defend the lives of the unborn and ensure our Second Amendments rights are safeguarded....

There are just hours left before the deadline. Contribute now.

Let’s do this!

Scott Walker

Trump's enabled by Johnson's own words, despite WTMJ radio's redactions

AM 620 WTMJ has posted a transcript of its morning interview with Ron Johnson.
Ron Johnson, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
As per usual, Johnson is an embarrassment.

Some takeaways:

* He is a complete apologist for Trump. Nothing new there, but please read past the headline and file it under 'we'll see!' 

Senator Johnson on President Trump-Ukraine quid pro quo. 'Nothing could be further from the truth'
* The radio station also notes: 
We are sharing Senator Johnson's words in full, with some words redacted for grammar. You can listen to his full comments above.
Seriously, WTMJ. "Redacted for grammar?" What kind of news operation are you? What kind of reportage is that? Is it your job to clean up Johnson's struggle with the English language?

As a reader and consumer of news, I shouldn't have to be directed to a more than 46-minute recorded segment and compare it with a printed version which I can more quickly read and quote from to spot the redactions.

That's pretty dismissive of the reading audience and burnishes Johnson's persona.

And in the context of a political firestorm over a White House call transcript, brutally ironic.

* And New Yorkers and Wisconsinites alike should be insulted Johnson's superficial and demeaning stereotyping as well as his acceptance of Trump's interpretation of "his job' - - the Presidency, which is there to serve the nation, not one aberrant personality: 
"I realize the narrative from Democrats and most members on the media, putting the worst possible construction on that phone call. I've spoken with the President enough on the phone and in person. It's how he approaches his job.  
"He's a New York business guy, he's different than a Wisconsinite. When he says it's a beautiful phone call, I take a look at that, that it's a pretty gracious phone call."
Does Johnson think the way Trump "approaches his job" correctly extends to arresting the House Intelligence Committee for committing treason?

Or to Trump's reckless retweeting that his impeachment could lead to a civil war?
Trump on Monday was thundering through a new round of counter-punches against his opponents by hammering home the suggestion that they should be arrested and charged with treason and could launch a civil war – or a combination of those.
Remember, Johnson is chair of the Senate's Homeland Security Committee, as he often reminds us, but remains obliviously tolerant of Trump's descent into dictator mode..

Johnson's reflexive Trump embrace worsens a homeland increasingly imperiled by an unstable and dangerous President put in office by a minority of the voters, covered-up campaign finance violations and with Russian assistance. 

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Mt. Pleasant might have found its timely municipal motto

A senior Mt. Pleasant Foxconn water-carrier came up with the perfect five-word status check following the company's earlier confidence-building 'who has the crystal ball' as we learned that another piece of the dream had gone poof last week
MOUNT PLEASANT — A planned 80-unit, five-story apartment complex announced in late 2017, which was to be built at the intersection of highways 20 and H, has been shelved indefinitely.  
Milwaukee-based Blue Ribbon Management had planned the project, which would have been the company’s first in Racine County, in anticipation of Foxconn creating more demand for housing....
“You can’t win them all,” commented Village President Dave DeGroot.
Screen shot of the company's glitzy promotional video.
A full archive of Foxconn posts dating to June, 2017 is here.

Cities can replace aging pipes & save trees at the same time

Urban trees matter. 

So does safe drinking water. Glad to see there communities are looking at alternatives to business as usual which coordinate both.
The City of Chicago will pilot two programs to limit the environmental impact of water pipeline repair construction, particularly by not requiring the excavation of trees in neighborhoods. The programs were announced [recently] amid outcry from residents and city aldermen over tree removal.  
One technique, known as cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) will place a resin-soaked textile liner tube in an existing pipe. Once it hardens, it forms a corrosion-resistant replacement pipe, and can be inserted without excavating the entire length of the pipe....The technique has also been used in cities like Toronto for years, and has some Chicago suburbs have successfully employed the solution. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019

DNR-Riveredge sturgeon release adds fish, Lake Michigan allies

The annual sturgeon fingerling release Saturday into Lake Michigan within walking distance of Milwaukee's downtown does two important things:

1. It provides a nice boost to the sturgeon population.

2. And more Great Lakes water awareness and wildlife appreciation allies are created on the spot.

We wandered over to the event in the urban gem Lakeshore State Park on a whim and bought the last two fund-raising tickets, allowing us each to release a six-inch fingerling into the lake, where we hope it reproduces and lives a hundred years.
As dad watches, Sarah and Olivia send a sturgeon fingering into Lake Michigan
All the more reason to pressure the state for much tougher enforcement of water quality standards in both of our Great Lakes' watersheds to stem phosphorus discharges and prevent CAFO runoff from reaching drinking water taps, and eventually the lakes, as happens far too often.
Manure spill...Kewaunee County...Again...
Lake Michigan, the Great Lakes, our drinking water - - all one system in need of high-quality stewardship.

Friday, September 27, 2019

A more complete Waukesha diversion review is sought

A coalition of groups continues to raise questions about the way Wisconsin's DNR greenlit a diversion of Lake Michigan water 
On the shoreline
to Waukesha.

The coalition is requesting that the DNR prepare more thorough documents and consider alternatives to make the agency's review and conclusions more credible, comprehensive and transparent.

These are reasonable requests in the public interest, given the precedent-setting nature of the diversion and the widespread acknowledgment that climate change is warming the planet and accelerating a water crisis.

Here is a link to the coalition's full communication to the DNR and to a coalition news release about it:

Great Lakes Coalition Objects to Incomplete Environmental Review of Waukesha Diversion  

DNR Urged to Provide Opportunity for Meaningful Public Participation


CONTACT: Attorney Rob Lee, (608) 251-5047 x 8:

Peg Sheaffer, Communications Director, (608) 251-5047 x 3:

MADISON, WI— The Compact Implementation Coalition and several partner organizations have submitted aletter to Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) outlining concerns about the recently released Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) DNR prepared for the City of Waukesha’s planned diversion of Great Lakes water.

The EIS was the subject of a public informational hearing held by DNR last month at Carroll University in Waukesha. Among the coalition’s concerns are DNR’s failure to consider all reasonable alternatives to the project and inadequate opportunity for public participation in the environmental review process.

There have been significant changes to the Waukesha Diversion project since the public was allowed to comment on the draft EIS, which was released in June 2015. Those changes include a change in water suppliers from the City of Oak Creek to the City of Milwaukee.The most recent EIS also identifies and analyzes three alternatives to the Milwaukee supply route that were not previously considered.

According to Midwest Environmental Advocates Attorney Rob Lee, “Each alternative follows a different route than identified in earlier versions of the EIS and would have unique impacts on the environment and on property owners. Although DNR has accepted public comments on the most recent EIS, DNR has not committed to responding to or making necessary changes to the EIS based on those comments, effectively denying the level of public participation the law requires.”

When it comes to identifying and analyzing possible routes for returning Waukesha’s treated wastewater to Lake Michigan, the EIS released in August is equally problematic. It fails to analyze any alternatives that would send return flow to Lake Michigan via the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) and is instead limited to alternatives that send return flow to Lake Michigan via the Root River. 

Without including an analysis of MMSD return flow alternatives, DNR not only lacks all the information relevant to its decision-making, it also deprives the public and stakeholders of the opportunity to analyze and supplement that information during the public review process.

The Compact Implementation Coalition (CIC) advocates for strong protections for the Great Lakes and monitors the implementation of the Great Lakes Compact. CIC groups signing on to the letter include Waukesha County Environmental Action League, Milwaukee Riverkeeper, Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, River Alliance of Wisconsin, and Midwest Environmental Advocates. The letter was also signed by Alliance for the Great Lakes and Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter.

Midwest Environmental Advocates is a non-profit environmental law center working to defend public rights, protect natural resources, and ensure transparency and accountability in government. Learn more about Midwest Environmental Advocates on the web at, like MEA on Facebook or follow @MidwestAdvocate on Twitter.


Manure spill...Kewaunee County...Again...

Not the mess of 9/12, and/or earlier, and comprehensively laid out - - in 2015:
A Wisconsin County is in Crisis
This one:
By Central Office September 26, 2019 
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff, along with Kewaunee County Land and Water Conservation District, continue to monitor the cleanup effort at the site of a manure spill into a ditch in the town of Pierce near Algoma. 
The farm, Ebert Enterprises, has stopped the discharge and is continuing to work to identify the source of the issue. They are pumping manure from a storage pit and moving it to another temporary location. Once the pit contents are reduced, they can excavate around the pit to investigate the cause of the discharge. 
The DNR will share additional information as it becomes available.
Documented as dangerous, and unacceptable- - as you can see from this previous Kewaunee County image.

Banking report: Industry knows a lot about water crisis, climate change

So says Morgan Stanley
A global water crisis has been long in the making. Depleted aquifers, droughts made worse by climate change, advancing desertification, the decline of once dependable glacial melt-off, even as growing demand from larger populations and economic activity all put unprecedented pressure on the supply of fresh water. It’s created what the World Economic Forum calls the fourth greatest global societal risk by impact—after weapons of mass destruction, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation and extreme weather events. The global consequences of insufficient safe drinking water range from higher child mortality and other health issues to social instability and mass migrations. 
The growing scarcity of fresh water also affects the global economy, especially industries with high water usage, which run the gamut from food companies and energy firms to textiles and technology manufacturers.
Hat tip, Axios AM.

And look, I know that major financiers worldwide have been bankrolling greenhouse-gas emitting, water-hogging corporations since forever, but I find the report a credible counter to denialist ideologues like Ron Johnson, and I also note these jaw-dropping and guilt-tripping data I need to address:
* A single kilogram of beef takes more than 15,000 liters of water...
* ...growing, washing and dyeing the cotton used to make a single pair of jeans requires 9,500 liters of water.
* Producing a single smartphone requires more than 12,000 liters of water. And on that point, far more, here.
For the record, I rarely eat meat anymore, but I am wearing jeans and have an iPhone in my pocket.


I'm still wondering how much Lake Michigan water - - 

Lake Michigan gale 

- - it would take for the highly-subsidized Foxconn plant going up in Mt. Pleasant to produce one device with an LCD screen should something actually roll off the assembly line there.

A Wisconsin judge agreed in the face of strong counter-arguments that the company can access a controversial, piped-in diversion of up to seven million gallons a day from Lake Michigan equal to 1,100 large water tanker trucks in a 14-mile line.

The company says it will use less, but the company's product lines have been, shall we say, in flux.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Blowing the whistle on Sen. Ron Johnson, (R-State Secrecy)

Russia might want to reissue Ron Johnson's travel visa 
Ron Johnson, official portrait, 112th Congress.jpg
now that he's proven himself a reliable authoritarians' water-carrier at this pivotal moment in Trump's 'presidency, and because no one appreciates a Ukraine short of defensive weapons more than Trump's best pal, Vlad:
Critics of Trump's call to Ukraine leader really 'just troubled' by his presidency, Sen. Ron Johnson says
Johnson said what deeply concerned him was that the whistleblower complaint about the call was leaked, pushing it out into the public domain.... 
“We never should even have known about this. The world would be a better place had we never known about this....
Was he bothered with the way Trump during the call put the squeeze on Ukraine's President? Nah. 
"I know how President (Trump) talks. That’s who he is,” said Johnson 
And now that the world now knows more about the way Trump talks, would Johnson would ever reconsider his judgement-free/no-second-thoughts' embrace of Trump and his speaking style?
 “I want to know who’s the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that’s close to a spy,” Mr. Trump said. “You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now.”

Yard sign campaign aimed at keeping state park 'development'-free

The grassroots organization Friends of the Black River Forest is out with a new yard sign urging protection of Kohler Andrae State Park from transferring land to a private developer for the construction of a privately-owned, high-end golf course complex.

For a $15 contribution, you can get this sign - - 

- - that will help keep a signature state park intact.

The group has won a round in court to block the construction after showing that the DNR's approval for the project of wetland-filling permit was outside the rules, but the matter is not settled.

And the bigger question is: given what we know about the relationship of old growth forests to climate change and a warming, less habitat environment, should the DNR be doing anything to enable the destruction of a nature preserve adjoining the state park which would loose public acreage for private gain.

Remember, this is more than a local issue impacting eastern Sheboygan County. It's a statewide matter because clean water, public land, fresh air, wildlife protection and rare dunes all hang in the balance.

Simply put, it's your park, too

As now that the DNR itself is signaling that it takes climate seriously when the Walker-era agency did not - - after demonstrating that it had not when it inappropriately gave the developer its wetland-filling permit - - 

Former DNR employee: Staff pressured to OK Kohler golf course on rare Wisconsin wetlands, park
-- it's time that the DNR take affirmative steps to make sure the golf course project remains blocked and helps the nature preserve's owner save that unique, 247-acre parcel rather than clear-cut, bulldoze and otherwise change its special character.

Evers, Cole inserting DNR in env. justice and back into climate science

Glad to learn that the WI DNR is embracing a new and assertive climate science role.

I noted last week that Gov. Evers' refocused Wisconsin DNR had not yet updated a critical climate change information web page which Walker's DNR staff had scrubbed nearly three years ago of science, data and links to propel his sweeping dismissal of science and implement his dumbed-down 'chamber of commerce mentality.' 

So I was pleased to learn of two documents:

* First, an agency-wide email sent Monday by Secretary Preston Cole - - 
Preston D. Cole
- - which said the agency was in tune with the issue and its imperatives, and was moving forward with climate change programming based on science.
This message is being sent to all staff

There is a great deal happening at this very moment as it relates to climate change from Friday’s global climate strike by students, United Nations Climate Action Summit to National Clean Energy Week. 

As the climate discussion grows, on behalf of myself, Beth and Todd, I wanted to share with you the Department’s role in addressing climate change and clean energy in Wisconsin.

For starters, thank you for all that each of you do for building resiliency in our state as we strive to adapt to the profound impacts of climate change on our citizens and natural resources. Everyone is affected by climate change, but some people are more affected than others because of factors like where they live; their age, health, income or occupation; or how they go about their day-to-day lives.

The department’s mission requires us to ensure the right of all people to use and enjoy Wisconsin’s natural resources, so we must also recognize that people of color and low-income communities are often the hardest hit by the effects of climate change and act to remedy such injustices.

Please see the attached memo so you are aware of Gov. Evers’ clean energy and climate change goals and our direction. Continue to engage in discussions regarding the policy and management issues that should be considered through the lens of changing climate trends and modeled forecasts for the state.

As always, thank you for hard work throughout the year and your continued service excellence.

Preston D. Cole


* And, secondly, the screen shot below contains the heart of the memo Cole referenced in his email. It indicates that the DNR is taking concrete actions to move far beyond the dead Walker years, and will assertively advance an agenda on these issues into the realm of environmental justice as a right.

Which is absolutely breath-taking.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

E. Kenosha County may have to further reduce ozone pollution

Think of clean air enforcement over SE Wisconsin and Northern Illinois like you would a gerrymandered map, where partisanship, favoritism and insider influence skew unscientifically drawn lines.

You may remember that Walker won from then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt a controversial exemption from toughened Federal clean air attainment standards in the Lake Michigan shoreline counties.

Smoke stacks from a factory. 

The immediate impact of the change: Foxconn would be able operate without having to spend a relative boatload of money to meet air pollution standards which were being toughened nationally.
 "Unfortunately, the people living around Foxconn in Racine and Kenosha counties in Wisconsin are the big losers," said Michael Mikulka, president of American Federation of Government Employees Local 704. "They will have to breathe in more air pollution every day because of Pruitt's gift to the governor...." 
In addition to completely exempting Racine County from the smog standards, Pruitt scaled back the EPA staff recommendations for other parts of Wisconsin, leaving only strips of land along Lake Michigan in Door, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Sheboygan and Manitowoc counties on the list of areas that need to take more aggressive steps to improve air quality.
Now it seems as if those "aggressive steps to improve air quality" are about to begin.

The Wisconsin DNR said Monday that non-attainment for ozone pollution in Eastern Kenosha County had been reclassified from "moderate" to "serious," and emission permits might have to be reworked.
The reclassification will take effect September 23, 2019 and will affect how air permitting is conducted in the eastern portion of the county. DNR is working with impacted facilities to explain any changes to the permitting process and to adjust existing permits as needed. 
Air News banner 730 pixels wide

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Air Program

September 23, 2019

Kenosha County’s ozone nonattainment status reclassified 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) finalized a reclassification for a portion of Kenosha County from “moderate” to “serious” nonattainment for the 2008 ozone standard.
The affected portion of Kenosha County, shown shaded on the map, is the area inclusive of and east of Interstate 94. This area is the Wisconsin portion of the three-state (Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) Chicago ozone nonattainment area for the 2008 standard.
The reclassification does not mean ozone pollution is worsening in Kenosha County. In fact, the long-term, three-year ozone design values in the county have been improving, from 84 ppb in 2010-2012 to 79 ppb in 2016-2018. This reclassification is required by the Clean Air Act because the area’s ozone levels did not meet the 2008 standard of 75 ppb by the required federal deadline (July 20, 2018).
The reclassification will take effect September 23, 2019 and will affect how air permitting is conducted in the eastern portion of the county. DNR is working with impacted facilities to explain any changes to the permitting process and to adjust existing permits as needed.
It is important to note that much of the ozone measured in Wisconsin is due to emissions originating from outside the state. Wisconsin’s lakeshore counties experience the highest ozone concentrations on warm days with southerly winds, which transport the compounds that cause ozone, especially volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), into the state. VOCs and NOx react over Lake Michigan to form high concentrations of ozone, which is transported onshore by the lake breeze.
Overall, ozone levels statewide have decreased over the past 15 years and emissions of ozone precursors like VOCs and NOx have decreased by 50 percent since 2002.
For more information on ozone, EPA’s federal ozone standards and how ozone is measured in Wisconsin, visit the Air Program’s ozone webpage at -

Foxconn easily won air pollution permits from the WI DNR last year.

Bottom line: clean air enforcement in SE Wisconsin now takes place under a politically-drawn, crazy quilt map. 

As if air pollution didn't cross county lines.

People wanted climate science Monday. Walker released more political smog.

While the world focused Monday on climate change science, it won't surprise anyone that Scott Walker's Twitter contribution promoted the right's ideologically-based contempt for data, reality and history.
Scott Walker Retweeted Communist China emits more carbon dioxide than the US and EU combinedso maybe capitalism isn’t the problem...
Walker forfeited any credibility on climate change by presiding over an eight-year, attack on climate change science, budgets and expertise, so of course he would gloss over known facts (below) because he's interested only in the game:
Why the US bears the most responsibility for climate change, in one chart
The wonderful folks at Carbon Brief have put together a great visual of how different countries have contributed to climate change since 1750. The animation shows the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions of the top emitters and how they’ve changed over time. Take a look:
Animation: The countries with the largest cumulative CO2 emissions since 1750
Ranking as of the start of 2019:
1) US – 397GtCO2
2) CN – 214Gt
3) fmr USSR – 180
4) DE – 90
5) UK – 77
6) JP – 58
7) IN – 51
8) FR – 37
9) CA – 32
10) PL – 27
Cumulative emissions are the critical factor behind the warming we’re experiencing
It’s not simply the rate of our output of heat-trapping gases that changes the global climate; the total amount of carbon dioxide emitted is a critical factor as well. 
While atmospheric carbon is gradually absorbed by the ocean and plants, a large fraction, about 20 percent, lingers for millennia. That means a big chunk of the greenhouse gases emitted at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution is still heating up our planet today. If we were to magically cease emitting all greenhouse gases at once, the planet would likely continue warming for a period of time. This leads to the next point....
What’s abundantly clear is that the United States of America is the all-time biggest, baddest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet. 
That’s true, despite recent gains in energy efficiency and cuts in emissions. These relatively small steps now cannot offset more than a century of reckless emissions that have built up in the atmosphere. Much more drastic steps are now needed to slow climate change. And as the top cumulative emitter, the US bears a greater imperative for curbing its carbon dioxide output and a greater moral responsibility for the impacts of global warming.