Saturday, October 30, 2021

10 elements in Wisconsin's already-degraded Big, Basic Supply Chain

We are hearing about problems in the supply chain.

Goods are tied up in ports, on ships, and through component and labor shortages.

Not to minimize any of that.

And I would argue that Wisconsin, and others, continue to abuse and further jeopardize an even more-critical supply chain - the clean air, fresh water and life-giving lands we should be guarding and repairing to improve, attract and ensure life here itself.

A lot of what is tied up in the transportation and manufacturing supply chain isn't going to be worth much if people buying these products don't have clean water, fresh air and adequate open space to enjoy and live their lives. 

And unless we pay closer attention to this Big or Basic Supply Chain we'll have less of what has given definition and meaning to Wisconsin and its antecedents because selfish special interests aided by complicit government are increasingly breaking, paving, filling, polluting and otherwise handing it over to the rich and powerful for their control and narrow benefit.

Here is a quick list of 10 foundational and interwoven elements of The Big, Basic Supply Chain which needs our fuller attention.

The grandkids are already watching.

Feel free to add more:

1. Clean air. SE Wisconsin's smoggy air would not improve with the nearly 800 annual tons of pollutants quickly awarded Foxconn.

2. Safe rural groundwater. Kewaunee County and the Central Sands water continues to be toxified by nitrate-laden CAFO discharges.

3. Lake Michigan water. Foxconn still has the right to a massive daily draw of Lake Michigan water. Wisconsin continues to award diversion requests while the other Great Lakes states remain mute. And Wisconsin is so used to diverting Great Lakes water that the latest effort began without the required prior authorizations. Who is surprised?

Lake Michigan north of Milwaukee. @James Rowen photo.

4. Urban well water. Eau Claire's is contaminated, for sure. Madison's wells have their problems, too. The so-called 'forever contaminants,' know as PFAS compounds, are ubiquitous and Wisconsin legislative Republicans are obstructing rules and regulations that are the legal antidotes.

5. Clean Rivers. The Menominee River could become a mining pollutant-laden supplier of drinking water because Wisconsin intentionally weakened its mining controls.

6. Wetlands. Foxconn has the right to take and fill wetlands more or less as it pleases.

7. Public land. Popular Kohler Andrae State Park may will see acreage inside and at its entrance handed over to a golf course developer. What kind of precedent is that?

8. Endangered species. More Milwaukee County Grounds public green space is slated for 'development,' threatening the sliver of Monarch Butterfly habitat which is all that's left to help this species hang on to a tenuous migrating site here.

9. Threatened species. The state's recent science-snuffing-wolf-killing binge is an abomination. Wolves are the most important forest predator which keeps the natural order in balance. Trapping and shooting the adults during breeding season after teams of dogs have been set against them as was sanctioned by the state less than a year ago was pure cruelty.

10. Respect for elder, Native cultures. You can't miss the pattern of what's under pressure and outright attack - whether it's the vital Menominee River, ancestral artifacts and burial mounds inside Kohler Andrae State Park, or at the expense of wolves considered sacred by Ojibwe tribes who had spent years protecting from seizure their treaty rights to walleye and life-affirming wild-rice estuaries. 

You could de-congest all the ports and unload Wisconsin's share for super fast delivery to businesses and homes in the Badger State, but Wisconsin and our future as the climate crisis unfolds will continue to degrade until policy-makers put Public Trust water, air, land and wildlife first. 

Friday, October 22, 2021

WI judge: flawed DNR rule-making dating to Stepp era bars WI wolf hunt

It is exceedingly ironic and downright karmic that the Dane County judge who blocked the DNR-approved wolf hunt set to begin in two weeks based his ruling on the agency's reliance for wolf hunting planning and implementation - 

Wisconsin is killing its wolves 

- on an outdated emergency rule in force for nine years - though that emergency (read: temporary) rule was created and used when Walker appointee Cathy Stepp ran the agency after having publicly blasted emergency rule-making in a blog posting she wrote not long before her appointment by Scott Walker. 

Her posting is no longer online, but....

I'd cited it several times because it showed her unapologetic and sneering contempt for the very agency she would run.

And note that the same rule-making procedure Stepp had objected to on partisan grounds - yet was fine with when the DNR needed a sharp tool to craft and run wolf hunts with quota-busting overkills between 2012 - 2014, and repeated last year in 2020 after she had retired, too - was at the center of DNR policies which a judge said Friday rendered wolf hunting - for now - an unconstitutional Wisconsin activity.

I'd copied out Stepp's blog item several times. Here's one example, with her item reproduced, verbatim:

JUNE 26, 2009

And Another "Do As I Say" Moment...

Those of you that haven't had the pleasure of peeking behind the scenes of our state agencies like DNR, Health and Family Services, etc...need to know how some of the most far-reaching policies come down on our heads.

The most crushing/controversial rules that businesses have to follow in our state are--most times--done through the "rule making process" of our state agencies. Without bogging everyone down with some really boring procedure talk, suffice it to say that many of these great ideas (sarcasm) come from deep inside the agencies and tend to be reflections of that agency's culture.

For example, people who go to work for the DNR's land, waste, and water bureaus tend to be anti-development, anti-transportation, and pro-garter snakes, karner blue butterflies, etc...This is in their nature; their make-up and DNA. So, since they're unelected bureaucrats who have only their cubicle walls to bounce ideas off of, they tend to come up with some pretty outrageous stuff that those of us in the real world have to contend with.

I could go on and on with examples of some of the most ridiculous stuff I've seen come down the pike, (no pun intended), but for the purposes of this post, I am going to pull out a quote from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau's summary report on the outcome of the "budget negotiations" that legislative democrats had with each other. (Note: I said with "each other." There were no republican ideas or motions accepted AT ALL during the Conference Committee process. No surprise there.)

When an agency sees an urgent need--example would be Chronic Wasting Disease management plans--they're allowed to implement an Emergency Rule. Understandable, since these ideas get an urgent run through the Joint Committee to Review Administrative Rules (affectionately known as JCRAR) without much public notice or scrutiny. The process is there to address emergencies ONLY. 

Well, sometimes agencies try to use this process as an end-around the legislative process to implement Rules, which end up having the same affect as Laws. (Those of you who have piers in lakes or culverts at the end of your driveways have probaby experienced these Rules.)

O'k, I went waaay wordier than I intended, but here's some language that was inserted into this BudgetPig that should scare everyone--regarding one of our agencies, the Department of Commerce: "it may promulgate the initial rules as emergency rules without the finding of emergency."

Why should this scare you? When (not if, I said WHEN) they give this authority to the DNR there will be more of a whooshing sound as businesses run for the borders. 

It's always the fine print in these things that have the heaviest hit. 

Just another example of the democrats game plan: Change the Rules to Fit the Players.

Shout it with me, now: HYPOCRISY, THY NAME IS DEMOCRAT.

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

WI DNR cuts fall wolf kill. Expect litigation to boost the toll.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Paul Smith does a fine job explaining the interagency battle between the WI DNR and its oversight Natural Resources Board, (NRB), that led the DNR Monday to substantially reduce the state's upcoming and sanctioned wolf-killing. 

It's the first time the DNR has altered a quota after the NRB had voted on one, according to long-time DNR employees, past board members and the agency itself.

The action underscores the contentious relationship between top department officials and a majority of the current board.

It's also the latest salvo in an ongoing dispute over wolf management in the state.

The NRB, the seven-member citizen board that sets policy for the DNR, voted at its Aug. 11 meeting for a 300 wolf quota.

The decision by a 5-2 vote overruled a DNR recommendation of 130.

Note that both Native American tribes and environmental groups have sued to prevent the upcoming Wisconsin wolf kill - and props to the opponents for standing their ground and fighting to minimize if not end this state-sanctioned barbarism - but I expect the NRB and hunter/gun rights groups to sue to overturn the DNR's move.

And whether it's the DNR's 130 or the NRB's 300 - and while the tribal allotments will save some wolves - a lot of these important natural forest regulators are going to be trapped, shot and killed.

I would add below a few additional facts and matters, especially about DNR kill quotas:

* There have been four state-sanctioned Wisconsin wolf hunts since 2012 and the kill totals in every one exceeded the DNR's quota, with the February, 2021 slaughter being the most brutal.

At least 216 wolves were killed in less than 60 hours, exceeding the state quota of 119 and prompting Wisconsin to end what was meant to be a one-week hunt four days early, according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

It's important to understand that these so-called quotas have been repeatedly broken. I've been writing about these realities since 2014:

The DNR's impossible to hit the number precisely because hunters are allowed 24 hours to phone in their sniping, trapping and head-shot successes, and, to date, DNR officials have not closed out a season by erring on the side of caution.

It's more or less a 'sh** happens' scenario.

Gray Wolf Photo by Gary Kramer. Check the photos tab for additional photos. 

Further undermining state quotas: the illegal killing (poaching) that has killed scores of wolves, making the February hunt carried out during wolf-breeding season especially vicious and in no way science based. 

* The refusal of Walker-appointee Fred Prehn to step down as NRB chairman when his term expired in the spring, and the GOP-led State Senate's refusal to hold a vote on a replacement member nominated by Gov. Evers continues GOP power-grabbing which began immediately after Democrat Tony Evers defeated Walker in November, 2018 and GOP legislators began removing or weakening gubernatorial powers which Walker and other governors had exercised routinely.

(This pattern was extended when GOP legislators 'convinced' a friendly Wisconsin Supreme Court in May to restrict Evers' ability to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.)

* One more item: While it's unclear if or at what level Wisconsin's November wolf hunt will unfold, the state's tolerance and support for wolf-hound sanctioned fighting - eight hounds depredated alone in Bayfield County since August 8 - continues under the guise of bear-hunting field training. 

And when hounds run off-leash through wolf territory to a gruesome death, Wisconsin pays the hounders $2,500. Even to scofflaws.

With so little concern for dogs, do we really expect the state to value its wolves?