Monday, September 13, 2021

Weigh in Tuesday for transit & against I-94 expansion in Milwaukee

Milwaukeeans and residents statewide can take an action step Tuesday to confront two crises: burgeoning climate change-driven calamities which are flooding media and large swaths of the country, and systematic transportation service deficits in Southeastern Wisconsin which continue to fuel environmental and workforce injustices, too. 


Tuesday's public participation opportunity aims to pressure WisDOT to abandon its billion-dollar boondoggle to widen I-94 across Western Milwaukee residential neighborhoods, and create with those public dollars a project which emphasizes transit needs whose neglect has held back countless individuals, families, businesses and an entire region, as the Brookings Institution noted in a major, 2008 report about the entire Great Lakes region.

These few sentences from the report summed up then what cities like Milwaukee needed and still need now,   and presciently shed light on why the proposed I-94 widening adds only retrograde concrete, pollution, stilted 'planning' and lost opportunities, writ large: 

To strengthen the economies of the region’s metropolitan areas, the Great Lakes states and the federal government should:


• Design and embrace a new competitive vision for transportation policy that includes high speed rail, greater access to ports and freight hubs, and better maintenance and preservation of existing highway and transit systems 

• Rebuild the region’s crumbling water and sewer infrastructure based on a thorough assessment of regional needs and a “fix-it-first” funding strategy that prioritizes existing systems in established communities. 

• Reinvest in cities and older communities by targeting infrastructure and economic development funding toward catalytic urban projects and revamping federal policies that concentrate the poor in decaying urban neighborhoods

A redefined WISDOT project would force historically unresponsive public agencies to broaden their horizons and correct their harmful, neglectful policies in our region which I have repeatedly catalogued and blogged about:

I am adding to this [2019] post about environmental justice and government-enabled discriminatory planning in SE WI the schedule of an important television documentary about the destruction of African-American homes, business and neighborhood cohesion by I-43 construction from Milwaukee to the northern suburbs....
And had addressed earlier in a January, 2015 item, here.
Say "No" to WisDOT's Billion-Dollar -I-94 Boondoggle
And had expanded up several months ago, here:

There is no constituency or true priority for, and zero fit with environmental justice and climate science facts and agendas to justify rebooting the Story Hill-area I-94 expansion which even road-building-boosting Walker had abandoned. 

Why are we still dreaming about adding expensive 'freeway' [sic] lanes

  

So please note that on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 a coalition of community organizations will hold a Zoom news conference to release an alternative proposal that would force WisDOT to make investments into long-ignored transit agendas and put the agency's weight into the fight against climate change which its preferred, one-dimensional lane expansion 'option' continues to choke. 

At great short and long-term costs.

-------------------------------------------

 Media advisory: Groups to unveil alternative to I-94 expansion


In response to the proposed expansion of I-94 East West in Milwaukee, a coalition of environmental, faith and transit advocates will hold a virtual press conference on Tuesday, September 14 at 10 a.m. CT to release an alternative, transit-oriented plan that better meets the transportation, accessibility, equity, economic and environmental needs of the greater Milwaukee region. 


Leaders from the coalition will share their unique perspectives related to the I-94 expansion and why they are calling for a better solution for Milwaukeeans. The report comes out as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) begins the public input process for a supplemental environmental review of the proposed highway expansion.


The event will include the following speakers:

  • Gregg May, Transportation Policy Director, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin

  • Caressa Givens, Milwaukee Community Programs Manager, Wisconsin Bike Fed 

  • Cheryl Nenn, Riverkeeper, Milwaukee Riverkeeper

  • Victoria Gillet, Physician and Member, Wisconsin Health Professionals for Climate Action


When:

Tuesday, September 14, 2021 at 10:00 AM CT


Location:

This event will be held via Zoom. Zoom event login for Tuesday, 9/14 at 10:00 AM CT: Click here to attend and use passcode 611467. 


Or join by phone by dialing: +1 312 626 6799 
Meeting ID: 967 2842 6598 Passcode: 611467


Contact Cassie Steiner, 262 930 3963 or cassandra.steiner@sierraclub.org with any technical questions. 


Wednesday, September 1, 2021

Climate crisis alarms are blaring everywhere. Anyone listening?

This story and headline hit me between the eyes: 

Air pollution shaves off 2.2 years of average life expectancy worldwide  
The average person is losing about 2.2 years of life expectancy due to air pollution, according to new research by the University of Chicago’s Energy Policy Institute. 

Worse, the obvious dangers of a worldwide addiction to fossil fuels are fed and dealt by big corporations and their servants in public offices are old news as shown by the same Chicago research institute's 2018 report:

EPIC's new Air Quality Life index measures single greatest threat to human health

Fossil fuel-driven particulate air pollution cuts global average life expectancy by 1.8 years per person, according to a new pollution index and accompanying report produced by the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago, [EPIC].

That's a 20%+ jump worldwide in just three years.  

* And do you remember that the Wisconsin DNR -

Foxconn's 4 air emission permits go through DNR speed-dating

and the US EPA - separately quickly, and knowingly -  had approved allowing more air pollution over Southeastern Wisconsin - where air quality is regularly degraded.

The US EPA's politically-driven loophole created during the previous administration was closed by team Biden, while the Wisconsin DNR's emission permits remain in Foxconn's hands despite production at the Racine County site that 'justified' the permits - or production of any kind - having never begun.

We are so blasé, we are in such denial about the state of the state and the world that publicly-issued permits to add 800 or so tons of air pollutants annually gather as much concern as a potato chip bag lying in the gutter.

* And air quality harmful to people, businesses and life it self is also a byproduct of an expanding wildfire season raging in the US West - 

 
The Rim Fire burned more than 250,000 acres (1,000 km2) of forest near Yosemite National Park, in 2013. (US Gov't. photo, via Wikipedia) 

- that right now is as close to Wisconsin as the Minnesota portion of the Boundary waters:

Progress made on northern Minnesota wildfires, but burning could last until snowfall

Climate change is a human-driven crisis, and humans don't have too much time to make a meaningful impact on the head start we've given it.

And people across Louisiana are out of time, thanks to superstorms - wildfires' climate change catastrophic cousin. 

These images tell some of that story, and we can only expect next more of this as the Hurricane season, like the west's fire seasons, become more than mere seasonal disasters.

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

WI manure contaminates our groundwater - and the US Gulf, too

Long-suffering WI well water users from Kewaunee County - 

Previously-reported manure flow from a Kewaunee County farm

- to citizens in the state's Central Sands who have been systematically ignored by corporately-captured GOP politicians - 

Vos, Fitzgerald go to bat for 'existing and expanding CAFO operations'

- will not be surprised by a blockbuster report's data and conclusions:

Water atlas links water pollution to heavy fertilizer use in Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin

In Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, 80 percent of surface water monitors and 83 percent of groundwater monitors with elevated phosphorus levels of at least 100 micrograms per liter, or ug/L, were located in counties where more than 70 percent of cropland is fertilized.

Excess phosphorus in freshwater feeds algae blooms. Not all algae outbreaks are toxic, but those that are can harm humans and animals. And even algae blooms that are not toxic can make waterways unfit for fishing and swimming. 

The water atlas confirms previous [Environmental Working Group] investigations revealing that drinking water nitrate contamination is a serious and worsening problem. In the four states, 86 percent of the water systems contaminated with nitrate levels at half or more of the federal legal limit are located in counties where at least 70 percent of the cropland is fertilized. 

But I hadn't realized we were part of outsourcing this nasty blend of 'Midwestern Nice' from the US South to the Gulf of Mexico:

Nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from agriculture in [Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois] is the primary cause of a notorious annual hypoxic zone off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas. During the summer, that part of the Gulf of Mexico is effectively dead, with devastating effects on Gulf fisheries and ecosystems – and the maps show the pollution problem persists.

And then I remember this as recently as 2018:

Dead zones in Green Bay show signs of lasting longer, raising long-term questions

The challenge: Industry and municipal wastewater systems have made big cuts in pollutants that have fed the dead zone. But the lion's share of runoff pollution comes from farms, which face less regulatory pressure to cut back.

"We are definitely moving in the right direction, but it’s still going to be a pretty big lift," said Kevin Fermanich, a professor of environmental science and geoscience at UW-Green Bay. He did not participate in the study. 

 


Saturday, August 28, 2021

WI 'educators' could add kids to GOP 'yearn, learn and earn' food plan

Wisconsin Republicans cannot let this teachable moment courtesy of educators slip unexploited past the party's opportunistic best pundits and policy-makers.

I mean, this could be the GOP's most powerful and expanded contribution to education in Wisconsin since Act. 10.

And, finally, the party can get busy implementing that old adage that used to mean something: "There's no free lunch," so good on you, Waukesha school board.

The GOP has long been making the poor, disadvantaged and plain unlucky among us work for their calories and survival - going back to Walker's first budget and straight through to the former guy's Presidency - so this is the chance for Wisconsin's most successful publicity-seeking school board - 

Waukesha The Only Wisconsin School District To Deny Free Meals For All Students

- where state Republicans get their biggest pile of in-votes to grab ahold of this ideology-first teachable moment and put some real shine on that apple a day -  

- by telling the kids:

'You want some of that good government surplus to fuel your food addiction? Get out on the playground and parking lot, pick up some trash, and earn you way to the cafeteria line.' 

Besides, free food courtesy as taxpayer-paid perk is a privilege controlled by top GOP power-brokers, so listen up, you little ingrates: who do you think you are, state legislators?

So respect yer elders and get to work, food addicts. I think I see some garbage near the board members' parking spaces.

Friday, August 27, 2021

Do not take it from a mule. Do not take it from a fool.

Wisconsin's highest-ranking hawker of a hooved animal dewormer as a preferred pandemic treatment for people also suggests taking anti-Covid-19 treatments according to that established pharmaceutical measurement - "a bunch." 

Johnson pushes Ivermectin and vaccine conspiracies despite federal warning

“I don’t care what drug will work. Try a bunch of them.”
 Trumpista Forever Ron Johnson

Reminds me of that old-timey pharmacists' credo Johnson must have in the drugstore when growing up in Minnesota: 

'Milligrams, kilograms, graham crackers - pretty much the same to me.' 

And as viral flu season rolls around - I just got an email reminder that flu shots are available - I'm expectantly waiting for Dr. Johnson to come out with his list of alternative flue treatments. 

Google tells me these include burned potato peels, salt and aluminum strips - and the best news is that none involve an upper arm owie or stupid sciency advice from by CDC buttinskies.

Along with this snotty slap at Johnson from 'experts' over at the Federal Drug Administration determined to steal my freedom to award your school kids lots of extra sick days - a fact which this Journal Sentinel headline glosses over:

You are not a horse. You are not a cow': FDA issues blunt warning on taking ivermectin, drug promoted by Ron Johnson to treat COVID-19

Which echoes another doctor who only practiced with a literary license and, were he alive today, might have said something like this about Johnson's horse-of-different-color Covid-19 treatment plan:

Do not take it with a cow

Do not take it with a sow

Do not take it with a mule

Do not take it from a fool.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Another WI wolf-killing binge generates formidable opposition

Every fair-minded Wisconsin resident who understands why there is even a northern Wisconsin on the map should be outraged and embarrassed that repetitively ugly actions by powerful, partisan and self-serving politicians who continue to intentionally erase 'conserve' from their so-called 'conservative principles' have brought us to this unacceptably retrograde point in 2021 -

Tribal leaders in Wisconsin feel ignored over wolf hunt decision

Ojibwe tribal leaders in Wisconsin feel like they’re being ignored in their concerns about wolf hunting in the state. 

“It seems like our voices are never heard,” said John Johnson, chairman of the Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe Nation and Voigt Intertribal Task Force....

“We’re supposed to have 50% say over the resources, and that’s never happened, especially in the Ceded Territory,” Johnson said. 

My question: where's the best place to send a donation to help overcome this history of justice denied, and its latest outbreak?

Photo copied from a November, 2020 report from Wisconsin Greenfire which policy-makers should have adopted.
 

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

WI science-basher irked when scientists don't meet his perfection standard

Voters in Tom Tiffany's northwoods congressional district need to know the level of repetitive and dangerous misinformation - and related b.s. - that their elected representative has been feeding them.

This May, 2021 posting was a start.

Yet Tiffany continues his camouflage-the-facts campaign.

In this recent release, Tiffany bashes the CDC for not providing 100% instantly complete advice about the unprecedented and fast-mutating COVID19, and then makes an unbelievably misleading and politicized statement: 

The lack of transparency by the highest-ranking medical officials in our federal government has created confusion and uncertainty. Americans have faithfully followed public health directives and recommendations for eighteen months, based on the premise that compliance would result in the resumption of normalcy. It seems now that guidance was illusory.

It's true that plenty of Americans have "faithfully followed" health directives and recommendations for eighteen months, but Tiffany is not one of them.

What gall, as we consider his record:

On August 17, 2021, when speaking at a Rhinelander school board against a masking mandate:

Congressman Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) spoke against masks at the meeting, equating the CDC guideline on masks to its one on eating raw cookie dough.

Does that sound like respect for and compliance with CDC recommendations to you? 

* On March 31, 2021

Wisconsin Congressman Tiffany Says He Advised His Adult Daughters Against Getting COVID-19 Vaccine

At Town Hall, Republican Representative Made False Statements About COVID-19 And Contradicted Public Health Guidance

Is that what faithfully following CDC guidelines sounds like? 

On October 6, 2020: 

Tiffany's Unmasked, Indoor Campaign Event Slammed As 'Completely Reckless'

Gathering Featured Arizona Sheriff Who Previously Caught COVID-19 At A Campaign Event 

Is that how a public official sets an example for compliance with CDC recommendations - during a killer pandemic? 

His attitudes and public position abuses contradict much-needed work by agencies and scientists trying their best to keep people, homes, and communities safe, and for Tiffany it dates to his years in the Wisconsin State Legislature.

Image of Tom Tiffany
US Cong. Tom Tiffany, (R-WI)

* In 2015:

Sen. Tom Tiffany says he asked governor for DNR job cuts

State Sen. Tom Tiffany has owned up to asking for job cuts to DNR scientists, who he has said focus too much on climate change.

On Friday’s Devil’s Advocate radio show, the Hazelhurst Republican said he asked Gov. Scott Walker and his staff to include a provision in the state budget axing approximately 17 positions from the Department of Natural Resources’ Science Services Bureau.

* Noted on June 18, 2017, and which you might keep in mind as Wisconsin is among the states experiencing sizzling temperatures and destructive storms which are long-predicted consequences of human-assisted climate change:

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that Walker is further weakening through disconnecting transfers - - an age-old bureaucratic ploy - - the work of the few science staffers whose positions he had not already eliminated. Work in the public interest which his GOP legislative allies have sought to and will additionally further restrict at the direction of Cathy Stepp, the former developer whom Walker appointed in 2011 as agency's business-friendly Secretary:

The story quotes outspoken climate change denier and eager corporate captive State Sen. Tom Tiffany, (R-Hazelhurst), in support of even more limitations on what remains of DNR science:

Stepp should be able to ensure that research benefits sportsmen and the DNR should be better able to prevent further research that takes climate change into account, Tiffany said.
Tiffany doesn’t accept the findings of 97 percent of working climate scientists that the climate is changing rapidly in large part because of human-caused pollution....
[Also] recall that he was the state legislator whose view of fishing and hunting in the Bad River watershed - - which, by the way, is not in his district  - included an active public relations role promoting a possible 35 years of mountaintop blasting, forest-clearing, open-pit iron ore mining, contamination runoff and wetland filling:
News that State Sen. Tom Tiffany, (R-Hazelhurst) is aiming to wipe out local jurisdictions' controls over mining-related dynamiting, road use, air and water regulation so GTAC mining is freer to engage in 35 years of mountain-top open pit iron mining up North is not the first time he has put the company's interests before everything and everyone else. The bill would also place similar restrictions on local controls over frac sand mining.
*  There was his failed attempt to close 3,500 acres of publicly-accessible forest land because mining might take place there. The effect was to bar scientists working for the nearby Ojibwe band from cataloguing wetlands in harm's way - - and right before state geologists found asbestos-bearing rock on potential mine property.
*  One set of URL's and citations about his close relationship to the mining company is here.
*  Another URL, thanks to the League of Conservation Voters and that connects the Governor's office to blatant special interest strategizing for the mine, is here.
A sample:
Begin by taking another look at this Facebook posting from last year by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters about Tiffany's relationship to a Gogebic's lobbyist:
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters · 15,050 like thisJune 27, 2012 at 5:42pm ·  
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:http://www.wispolitics.com/1006/Storey_Emails.pdf ...
Tiffany is either unaware or dismissive of published work by DNR researchers posted by a UW-Madison program from which Walker's DNR has now distanced itself that showed the dangers a warming climate posed to Wisconsin's lakes, rivers and streams - - the very 'sporstmen' arenas Tiffany allegedly is trying to assist.
Few Wisconsin wildlife species are more sensitive to changes in their environment than trout. They depend on a particular set of conditions to survive, including a narrow range of cold water temperatures. Climate change poses an extraordinary challenge to this critical state resource.
Department of Natural Resources researchers John Lyons and Matthew Mitro have spent years studying the impacts of environmental change on 50 fish species in Wisconsin. They track how things like changes in land use, stream characteristics and warming temperatures affect fish populations...
Incorporating Wisconsin specific climate data in the fish researchers' models produced startling results: all but four of 50 species they studied would be affected. About half of them, warmwater species such as bass, could benefit from the change. But coldwater species are at risk as air and water temperatures increase. Brown trout and wild brook trout in particular have narrow temperature ranges in which they can successfully live, feed and reproduce.
Under the most extreme summer warming conditions projected by the models — where air temperatures would increase by about 9°F and water temperatures by 7.2°F — brook trout may not survive in Wisconsin at all, and brown trout may decrease by 88 percent. Even under more moderate conditions of air temperature increasing by 1.8˚F and water temperature by 0.8˚F, brook trout distributions may shrink by 44 percent and brown trout by 8 percent. 
 

 

Monday, August 23, 2021

Bayfield Co. hounders again throw cautions & hunting dogs to the wolves

This was the headline on a blog post of mine one week ago. You can file it under 'the more things change, the more things stay the same.' 

WI hunters keep throwing hounds to wolves in Bayfield Co.

This is the message line and detail in an email from the Wisconsin DNR Monday afternoon: 

Hunting Dogs Depredated in Bayfield and Douglas Counties 

On August 21, 2021, USDA-Wildlife Services verified that wolves killed a 3-year old female Plott trailing hound in the Town of Delta, Bayfield County.

On August 22, 2021, USDA-Wildlife Services verified that wolves killed a 7-year old male Plott trailing hound in the Town of Highland, Douglas County. 

This is what a Plott hound looks like:

Bossplotthound.JPG

This is the headline on a blog post of mine from Aug. 3, 2020:

Hunters keep releasing hounds into fatal wolf encounters; WDNR compensation available

Here are a few paragraphs from that post: 

I have followed this sad sacrifice for years; while Wisconsin is not the only state with legacy hunting traditions, it is the only state where so-called sporting lobbies had convinced the Legislature decades ago to include reimbursements to hound owners by the DNR of up to $2,500 per hound killed or injured by wolves.

As of April 20, the state has paid out more than $845,000 to hound owners requesting reimbursement for hounds killed or injured by wolves, records show.

(The DNR program also compensates livestock and pet owners for similar losses.)

Media have noted that state reimbursements are made to hound owners who are repeat payment collectors - or scofflaws, and to owners who released their hounds into known wolf activity areas mapped out and posted online by the DNR.

Several of 12 hounds injured or killed this summer in recent encounters with wolves were Plott hounds, perhaps like this one, DNR records show.

Bossplotthound.JPG

These are the recent hound-wolf encounters listed by the DNR: 

This is the headline and some text from a blog post of mine from September 2, 2016: 

28th hound killed in '16 WI bear hunt 'training' by wolves

On Aug. 31 - - the last day of the state's legal, off-leash bear hound 'training' period - - the Department of Natural Resources said by email today that the year's 28th bear hound was killed by wolves in Wisconsin [and] the 25th bear hound killed just this month by wolves in Wisconsin. 

More unhealthy air over SE Wisconsin's lakeshore counties

Remember when the WI DNR quickly gave Foxconn permits to expel nearly 800 tons of air pollutants every year? Only the company's failure to begin any production keeps today's degraded air quality in the region from getting worse:

Sanctions shred Senatorial sanctimony, but do voters care?

At first glance it's an open-and-shut Badger State case study in how not to hold public office, let alone run for re-election.

We're referencing Wisconsin's senior GOP US Senator, who faces plunging approval record - 

Trumpista Forever Ron Johnson

- while weighing a third-term run which he promised he would not make.

And if poor polling and a broken promise wouldn't already have derailed an incumbent bent on re-election - especially one whose recent self-serving maneuvers shattered his earlier sanctimonious self-accounting - consider that Johnson is also deep into an expanding political minefield of his own creation:

* Begin here, with one Andril Derkach, a Ukrainian legislator who was just sanctioned by Ukraine:

Ukraine sanctions lawmaker accused of meddling in U.S. election

* This is the same person - designated by US officials as a "Russian agent" - whose associates and others were already sanctioned by the US Government during the Trump administration for interfering in American politics: 

WASHINGTON – Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) took additional action against seven individuals and four entities that are part of a Russia-linked foreign influence network associated with Andrii Derkach. 

Russian agent Derkach was designated on September 10, 2020, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13848, for his attempt to influence the 2020 U.S. presidential election....

Since at least 2019, Derkach and his associates have leveraged U.S. media, U.S.-based social media platforms, and influential U.S. persons to spread misleading and unsubstantiated allegations that current and former U.S. officials engaged in corruption, money laundering, and unlawful political influence in Ukraine. 

* Now here's why this might ring an alarm bell for Johnson, and Wisconsin voters

State Dept. provides House Dems docs previously given to Ron Johnson's Biden probe

Democrats have raised concerns that material gathered by Derkach, who met in December with Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, has been laundered into Johnson’s material. 
Johnson has strenuously denied the allegations, but Democrats sought the documents he obtained from the State Department to understand the direction his probe is taking. 
POLITICO first reported that Derkach mailed information about the Bidens to Johnson, but Johnson’s office has denied receiving anything from Derkach.

Derkach has pushed many of the same claims against Biden that Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, is pursuing. Johnson’s probe centers on allegations that a Democratic public-affairs firm sought to leverage Hunter Biden’s position on the board of Burisma in order to influence the Obama-era State Department. 

* Not to mention this report which ran in the Wisconsin State Journal Aug. 9, 2020: 

national intelligence document released Friday by the Trump administration revealed Russia is using pro-Russia Ukrainian officials to slander presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, undermining a key pillar of U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson’s ongoing investigation into the former vice president.

Johnson, who is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, has drawn criticism from Democrats and foreign policy experts for what they see as an attempt to smear Biden as he challenges Republican President Donald Trump.

* As well as this related August, 2020 lengthy item, which includes Johnson's denial of any wrongdoing:

Earlier this month, Johnson defended himself on a local Wisconsin news station saying, “What have I published, what have I reported on, that is not true, that is any form of Russian disinformation? There has been nothing....”   
We provide a roadmap for understanding this disinformation operation currently in progress, using U.S. elected officials as a vehicle.

 You'd think all this would have led Johnson months ago to announce there'd be no third-term run, but maybe it's all too complicated for voters to digest.

And remember that he won two elections which plenty people said he wouldn't win, so maybe his Teflon is actually advanced, impenetrable Kevlar.