Monday, October 22, 2018

The Tariff King, endorsed by Walker, lobs 'panic' into the WI economy

[Updated 6:25 p.m: Walker has put three up recent tweets, including this just 15 minutes ago, touting claims about manufacturing jobs. Gotta paper over the horrible headline below about the impact of his buddy's tariffs that are slamming Wisconsin manufacturing.
 16 minutes ago16 minutes agoMoreTony Evers wants to roll back the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit, hurting family farms and our small businesses -- that would take us backward. 
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Trump got Walker's endorsement at the 2016 GOP convention and two years of judgement-free sucking up.

And when Trump undercut Wisconsin farmers, manufacturers, exporters and vendors, Walker meekly, weakly tweeted

And bobbed away from the damage 

his master's 'trade policy' was bringing to all sorts of Wisconsin businesses.

And now that frightening headlines are forming - - 

As tariffs continue, panic beginning to sink in among Wisconsin manufacturers
- - will Walker do or say anything?

Let's see what our custard-eating, sports-garb feinter-in-chief has to say about tariffs today.

Nothing.

Five hours ago he was still trying to convince people that the lawsuit against Obamacare and pre-existing condition coverage doesn't mean exactly what it's aimed at - - abolishing Obamacare and pre-existing coverages. And yes, he's wearing a Packer's letter-style jacket to puff up his ego.More

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 10. Kohler's golf course.

This 21-part retrospective series I'd promised will run with daily updates, ending prior to the Nov. 6 election. This is Part 10 and ties together Walker's disdain for the environment with his agencies serving Walker donors and Republican interests.

Few projects with the exception of Foxconn which have the blessing of Walker's 'chamber of commerce mentality DNR and other taxpayer-funded public agencies - - the AG's office, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, which is supposed to give independent oversight guidance to the DNR, local officials and annexation officials at the state DOA - - have outweighed the state's disregard for the the environment and fair play than the Kohler golf course proposed adjacent to and grabbing acreage inside a popular state park.

I've visited the site, publicized the opposition organized by Friends of the Black River Forest, and written about it often since 2014.


And put it into a larger context often, including, here
...the state has 700 impaired waterways by the agency's own count and in 2014 added dozens more to the list; paradoxically, the DNR is currently reviewing whether a major Walker donor can build an 18-hole golf course on 247 acres of forested, wetland-laden land at the edge of Lake Michigan near Sheboygan through which runs The Black River, one of those impaired waterways. 

Opponents of the project's groundwater demands, deforestation, and planned incursion into an adjoining state park recently told the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board - - to which the DNR reports - - that test wells were drilled on the site without permits, among other concerns.

See and hear the opponents' ten-minute presentation beginning at the meeting's 2:21 mark, followed by about five minutes of Q & A.
Here is one early post about the developer's donations to Walker's campaign, and something of a more recent summary, below.

And I try to remind people that the Black River which runs through site's current 247-acre nature preserve, and Lake Michigan literally yards to the east, are public trust waters which the DNR is obligated to manage for the people so they are not lost as public resources, as the State Supreme Court has warned.

And ditto for the adjoining park:

By the way, that's your park, too

From which state agencies have said the golf course can have dedicated acreage for a road, parking, and a building in which chemicals and vehicles can he stored.

A move roundly criticized by the park's former, longtime Superintendent - - but Team Walker has bulldozed science, informed observation along with the trees, wetlands, wildlife habitat in project and project since Walker took over. 

Below is information from a September, 2018 summary post:
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I have been reporting on the golf course plan and its opposition by the grassroots organization Friends of the Black River Forest since 2014.

Here is one post with a view of the state park land ticketed for private bulldozing and use,

and another post which included sections of the project's environmental impact statement, which I will also copy out, here.

*  Page 36: Much of the 247-acre Kohler parcel currently includes forested habitat. The golf course design would remove approximately 100 to 120 acres of forested land cover. Forested land and specimen trees will remain as part of the design located predominantly between golf course features. Opening up blocks of forested land will result in greater potential for windthrow and wind damage to the remaining trees.


*  Page 50: The Kohler Property is almost 100 percent contiguous forest. Up to 50 percent of the forest would be removed if the proposed project is constructed. The remaining fragmented forest would provide some habitat during songbird migration. Invasive species management and restoration of native trees and shrubs in invasive removal areas would help control exotic and invasive species in the retained forest. The forest edge along turfgrass and human use areas created from fragmentation of the forest would probably increase the challenge of exotic and invasive species management. 


The edge would likely provide some habitat for species that inhabit transitions between forest and openings. Habitat value would likely be diminished. 


Tree clearing would occur on the Property for each hole, the access road, the clubhouse/parking lot complex, the practice range, the maintenance facility, the restrooms, and the irrigation pond. Tree clearing may also occur in forested areas between tee and fairways to provide lines of sight. Interior forest bird nesting habitat is likely present within and adjacent to the Project boundary and would essentially be eliminated. Wildlife species inhabiting these areas would be permanently impacted by the loss of habitat. 


However, impact to these species is not expected to create a significant effect on regional populations.


*  Page 63: Kohler has stated that the lakeshore and associated dune habitats are essential to the natural and minimalistic golf course design.


Some trees bordering the beach would be removed, allowing longer sight lines between the Project and Lake Michigan. Trees present in dune habitat that is utilized by a rare species may not be able to be removed unless additional authorizations are obtained (i.e., an incidental take permit). Additionally, the number and area of trees removed would have to be reviewed to determine the potential impacts on the beach/dune community. 

*  Pages 69-70:

Summary of Adverse Impacts That Cannot Be Avoided
The site’s nearly 100% forested canopy would be reduced by nearly half. Habitat value will diminish along forest edges near turf grass and human use areas.

Approximately 3.7 acres of wetland would be lost due to filling including impacts to approximately 1.36 acres of Great Lakes ridge and swale wetlands, a wetland type that is considered “imperiled” in Wisconsin. Additional wetland impacts resulting from alterations to wetland hydrology and the influence of increased nutrients could change the wetland type and allow encroachment of invasive species.

Reduction of the forest to 50 percent cover would result in a substantial reduction of available migratory bird stopover habitat on the Kohler Property. Interior forest bird nesting habitat is likely present within and adjacent to the Project boundary and would essentially be eliminated...

Short term adverse impacts that cannot be avoided include approximately two years of construction traffic, noise, and dust. Hikers on the Black River Trail near the Black River would be the Kohler-Andrae patrons most likely to notice construction noise and changed aesthetics...

It is unknown to what extent storm water infiltration and nutrient and pesticide applications to fairways, tees and greens (for either establishment or maintenance) would impact groundwater quality in this permeable soil and shallow water table environment.

Part 9 of this series was published Sunday, October 21, 2018

Sunday, October 21, 2018

How to fire back at Walker's sanctimonious slams at Evers

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment. Part 9. CAFOs

This is the 9th installment of a 21-part blog series I am posting until the weekend before the Nov. 6th election. Each installment also carries the previous day's link. Also, here is a link to the first seven.
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ll be hard to do justice to the matter of the expansion of the industrial-scale dairy cattle and other other animal feeding operations known as CAFOs, as they impact neighboring and downstream groundwater, wells and streams, air quality, the credibility of government and regulation.

The consequences have been particularly severe where CAFOs are numerous, like Kewaunee County, where we have known since 2015 that about a third of wells there, and on other areas in NE Wisconsin, and the Central Sands to the west were contaminated.


One major fight over a CAFO expansion led to landmark litigation in 2014, and is continuing to this day, with Walker ally, Wisconsin GOP AG and friend to big water users Brad Schimel maneuvering the case to friendlier court confines in Waukesha County, a Republican hotbed far from NW Wisconsin and where he previously had served as DA. 


Here is one summary post:

WI Central Sands the next Flint? Kewaunee County already soaks up that honor.
You can see how and why the phrase "brown water event" has made into the mainstream vocabulary, given what's flowing downstream. 


Like this one moving off a Kewaunee County CAFO:


The DNR used to make it easy to see in a single chart how and where CAFOs were expanding, but that chart no longer exists.

Hey, if the DNR was willing to run five CAFO permit hearings past citizens in a single day, imagine how much staff time it would take to keep updating that chart.

It's also no surprise that the DNR would keep showing disinterest documented by state auditors in making sure rural well water wasn't also a repository for cattle waste.

Senior DNR officials did the same sort of thing when confronted with evidence that a septic tank waste hauler improperly spread his loads of human feces near rural homes. After all, a GOP campaign donor needed some consideration.

Speaking of which:

You may remember that I began this series focusing on moves Walker made in the first hours of his administration to ease wetland protections and even to suspend the rules so a campaign donor could quickly get a permit to fill and wetland and build a development.

Fast forward to this year, when Wisconsin Democracy Campaign discovered that major Walker donors were getting permits basically in perpetuity to acquire all the groundwater they wanted to fuel their CAFOs.


The bigger the CAFOs, the bigger the Walker-driven supply/over-supply of milk, driving out smaller farms and leaving the big operators more ready to weather that storm.

Talk about carrying water for those who could privatize it, abuse it and carry it away.

This is part 8 of the series, published October 21, 2018.

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment, Part 8. Dirty air.

This 21-part retrospective series I'd promised will run with daily updates, ending prior to the Nov. 6 election. This is Part 8.

Much of the series has dealt with various water issues, but in this installment, I want to focus on policies Walker and his agencies have instituted that leave plenty of Wisconsin residents with unhealthy air to breathe. 


And knowing that what goes up - - air pollution emissions - - comes back down to earth and often in the water - - there's another scientific fact which Walker and the pollution party he represents have dismissed.
Smoke stacks from a factory.
And, as I pointed out with Walker's multiple attacks on clean water and particularly wetlands - - those natural water filters which minimize flooding, something Wisconsin has repeatedly suffered in the last few years - - his anti-science, pro-air-polluter policies began early in his tenure.

After Walker installed 
atop the air management section at his 'chamber of commerce mentality' DNR a top official representing industries which had long campaigned for relaxed air pollution standards, the DNR eliminated a [ubliv health service it had been offering: early notifications about deteriorating air quality that could help seniors, children, people with heart and lung problems and even people planning strenuous outdoor activities avoid potentially-harmful  exposure to particulates that are not always visible.

But industry's attitude towards air pollution can be, 'let's not draw attention to about it especially if you can't always see it,' and the action set the stage for further dismissive actions about air pollution, including exemptions for SE air quality management to suit Foxconn, litigation against Obama air quality initiatives and penalty-free 'enforcement' for pollution violations by the huge multinational corporation 3M.  


More about that later.


Two months after Walker was sworn in, I wrote this:

Walker administration will stop publishing some air quality information
Remember that Pat Stevens, a lawyer who worked for the road-builders, home-builders and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, is now managing the agency's air quality section.

This is the email text...
As of March 15, 2011, the Wisconsin DNR will no longer issue Air Quality Watches for ozone and particle pollution due to limited staff resources and the potential increase in the number of air quality notices under proposed revisions to federal air standards.

In the past, an air quality watch was issued when conditions were favorable for pollutants to reach unhealthy levels. 
Watches are also being eliminated due to their confusion with Air Quality Advisories which are issued when pollution concentrations actually reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups.

Air quality notices are issued as a public service by the DNR in partnership with the National Weather Service. They are not mandated by rule or law.


The DNR will continue to issue Air Quality Advisories when ozone and particle pollution levels are over or expected to reach the federal air quality standard.
That's what you get when the state's major public resource management agency becomes a defacto Department of Commerce. 

Here is Part 7 of this series, published October 20, 2018.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Scott Walker, weird jersey boy

So which is odder:

Walker with his own name on a Brewers T-shirt with Chacin's number 45 (yeah, I know, Walker's the 45th Governor of Wisconsin), or wearing the T-shirt in Green Bay, where another sports franchise is rather well known.

Actually, he should, out of loyalty, always wear Cubs gear, given the $5 million Cubs owner Joe Ricketts gave Walker in 2015.

Just a thought, since he put these images on Twitter.

My other thought is that he's going to have so stay on his bus if he's coming back to Madison this evening because I don't think the state's small planes are ideal when we've got an all-daytime wind advisory.

Might he be made Scotthole aware today?
 
14 minutes ago


Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment, parts 1-7

I'd promised to publish on this blog a 21-part series on Walker's attack on the environment, with daily updates, prior to the Nov. 6 election.
Dead brookie in the dried up Little Plover River. Photo by River Alliance of Wisconsin,

Here is a post with links to the first 7 installments. Click on any title for that item.
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Walker's 8-year-war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 1, wetlands.

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 2, Walker & Stepp.
Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 3, mining, big business and $.

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 4. More wetlands, big business, $.


Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 5, wolves, blood & dogs.
Walker's 8-year-war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 6: Waters harmed, 2013-'13.
Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 7. UW, DNR sciebceslashed




Walker's 8-year attack on Wisconsin's environment: Part 7. UW, DNR slashed

Walker has never been the science Governor. Ask any road engineer, teacher, clean water specialist, hunter nervous about chronic wasting disease, wind farm investor, solar panel producer, or data collector tracking the rankings' fall at UW-Madison.

So getting ready to run (and fall flat on his face) for President meant proposing a budget that obliterated many UW and DNR environmental programs, which of course, were based on science and research.

Walker's budget also would have sold off UW-Milwaukee's Downer Woods- -  which doubles as an outdoors science lab and urban park in a blue neighborhood - - to the highest bidder.

The Legislature balked at the UW programmatic slash-and=burn, but in the end the UW system took the first of two, $250 million budget reductions - - see second to last bulleted item, here - - and the DNR would lose scores of educator and science positions that continued to weaken its fundamental conservation mission.

* February 27, 2015:
Walker budget would cut numerous UW environmental programs, DNR jobs
As if Walker's across-the-board staff and program cuts to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (66 science positions, for example), his removal of policy-making authority from the citizen-attentive Wisconsin Natural Resources Board, an exemption for the huge UW system statewide from energy saving goals, his removal of state financing from recycling programs and his 13-year suspension of the popular Knowles-Nelson land purchase and stewardship program weren't enough slams at public access and public policy-making, science and resources, his proposal to restructure the UW system and slash its budget would have also mandated many deep cuts in UW managed and offered environmental activities, said the budget document.
This is a link to Part 6 from October 19, 2018. 

 

Friday, October 19, 2018

Walker's 8-year-war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 6: Waters harmed, 2011-13.

This 21-part retrospective series I'd promised will run with daily updates, ending prior to the Nov. 6 election. This is Part 6; a link to the previous day's posting is at the bottom of each installment. 

This installment includes a summary of Walker's special-interest water-carrying through 2013, focusing on damage done to wetlands, shorelines, the state constitution's now-weakened Public Trust Doctrine, sustainable groundwater pumping, the popular Knowles-Nelson public lands stewardship fund, and many others.
* December 20, 2013:
Wisconsin's Water Crisis
In the name of job-creation, Walker pushed the Legislature to adopt a bill short-circuiting the formal, routine review of a wetland filling permit application from a Green Bay-area developer (and Walker campaign contributor) to facilitate the construction of a national fishing equipment mega-store. 

Not even a subsequent 2011 letter from federal officials citing a jaw-dropping 75 "omissions and deviations" in Wisconsin's management of the US Clean Water Act has slowed the flow of proposals or actions by the Governor, state agencies and the Legislature to:

* End some environmental reviews for some major development projects.

* Change laws to ease building in wetlands, including waterways protected for their scientifically significant status. The bill was drafted with active input from Wisconsin building interests; Walker signed it to a standing ovation at a convention of Realtors.

* Allow mega-dairies to expand without serious regard for the watertable, and exempt some new high-capacity wells (100,000 gallons+ daily) applicants from assessing those wells' cumulative water draw effects. Imagine the authorities saying developers could add as many 10-story parking ramps as they wanted without studying the impact on traffic. 

* End the ability of municipalities to establish construction site runoff regulations stronger than state standards, and overall enforcement transferred to the DNR - -  an agency now run with a "chamber-of-commerce mentality" intentionally installed there by Gov. Walker.

Deeply cut funding for a long-standing and bi-partisan open space acquisiton program - - the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund - - and require the DNR to sell 10,000 acres of land - - land that retains moisture, prevents flooding, filters water, and sustains fish and wildlife.

* Despite the need for erosion controls, open shoreland to greater development.  

* Enable unprecedented mountain-top removal in the pristine, northern Penokee Hills for a very deep, very wide open-pit iron ore mine that could run for 4.5-to-22 miles near the headwaters of the Bad River, streams and lakes near Lake Superior. (Some subsequent information, here.) 

The mine would be upriver from public drinking water supplies and close to wild rice producing estuaries central to the survival of the Bad River Band of Ojibwe (Chippewa), and would produce, despite scientific testimony and other warnings, millions of tons of acid-yielding waste rock set to be dumped with state approval directly into streams and wetlands.

Is this rush to make water law and policy changes rooted in good science? Common sense?

*  When asked why the Ojibwe were not provided a seat at the table when the mining bill was drafted behind closed doors with company participation, two key Assembly members said the tribe's input wasn't feasible or required.

When a fifth-generation Mellen farm family living near the mine's proposed blasting and open-pit excavation area expressed to visiting State Sen. Glenn Grothman, (R-West Bend), its concern that mine operations would cause their well to drain away, Grothman said they should trust the mine operators to caulk for that.

Worse, these legal and policy changes to water policy and law are taking place against a backdrop of other troubling, visible water emergencies and risks being ignored:

*  Lake Michigan is plagued by destructive invasive species and remains at persistent low water levels that negatively impacting commercial shipping and recreational boating.

*  Wisconsin surface waters are vulnerable to reduced volumes from warming temperatures that accelerate evaporation. 

*  The Little Plover River - - once a reliable angling gem in Central Wisconsin - - has run dry. It is affected by the rapid increase in high-capacity agricultural wells sited nearby, and is listed nationally as a most-endangered waterway.
The Little Plover River often runs dry. Large farms nearby pump groundwater which supplies the river. (River Alliance of Wisconsin photo)
*  Three separate and substantial 2012 fuel spills from pipeline breaks have fouled land and water near Grand Marsh, in Adams County, in and around Jackson and its wildlife marsh in Washington County, and the edge of Mitchell Airport and a creek close to Lake Michigan.

Where in this roiled political and natural environment is the respect for the Public Trust Doctrine, and for the State Supreme Court's water warning nearly a half-century ago:
A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body of water may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage; once gone, they disappear forever.
Here is a link to Part 5 updated from October 18, 2018

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Walker's 8-year war on Wisconsin's environment: Part 5, wolves, blood & dogs.

This 21-part retrospective series I'd promised will run with daily updates, ending prior to the Nov. 6 election. This is Part 5. There is also a link at the bottom of each installment to the previous day's post.
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Between 2012-2014, the DNR implemented a wolf hunting season enthusiastically promoted by legislators like Republican State Rep. Joel Kleefisch who are in thrall to various well-heeled and politically-active so-called 'sportsmen' lobbies.

Like the deer herd and other Wisconsin wildlife, these animals belong to no person or group, but are part of the state's trust that the DNR is supposed to approach scientifically as stewards for all the people of the state. 

But Kleefisch and his allies got their way, and the result was a slaughter so ugly - - most wolves were killed with single shots to the head while snared in leg traps - - that a federal judge after the 2014 season re-listed the grey wolf as a protected species' to rein in poorly-'managed' wolf hunts like Wisconsin's.


Perhaps the DNR's allowing the killing to exceed its own so-called 'quotas' played a role in the federal court's finally saying, 'enough.'
Wisconsin is killing its wolves 
There remain lingering, bloody legacies in the form of only-in-Wisconsin $2,500 per-hound payments from the DNR to bear hunters who let their dogs run off-leash into fatal encounters with the larger, very territorial wolves.

Repeat payment collectors can continue to make new claims, as can documented scofflaws.

And there is continuing pressure to reinstate the wolf hunt, even without limits, so boosting the madness into poaching status.

Other cruel 'training' practices remain legal in WI, too.

As to Walker:


He's on the record wanting what he called a successful 'harvest' brought back, hiding the brutal realities of leg traps and head shots behind sanitized language.

But let's also remember that Walker was so eager to please this particular part of the hunting bloc that he suggested lowering the already-meager wolf killing permit from $100 to a mere $50 before the shameful business was again outlawed.
* December 20, 2013:
Wisconsin DNR says 15 of 234 kills were aided by dogs
Those numbers - - 234 total, of which 15 were aided by dogs - - represent wolves registered with the DNR in the current hunting season as of Dec. 19th, the agency said today in response to my email inquiry.
Wisconsin is the only US state to sanction the use of dogs in wolf hunting; a challenge to that part of state law by humane societies is pending in state appellate court.
The current wolf hunting season is ongoing in one NW Wisconsin zone. Dogs were first allowed on Dec. 2.
The allowable kill this season statewide is 251, up from 117 last year. 
This was Part 4, updated on Wednesday, October 18, 2018.



Denied climate science by Walker, WI longs to be progressive N. Carolina

I guess the flooding in Wisconsin these last few months and years

- - a couple of deaths here, a couple of hundred million dollars in wrecked homes and roads there - - hasn't been destructive enough to move climate change-denier Scott Walker to the more progressive North Carolina position.
In North Carolina, hurricanes did what scientists could not: Convince Republicans that climate change is real
Actually, don't worry, Wisconsin. Walker's focused like a laser on what's important.

20 hours agoMoreNice win!  
So, basically, it would be faster and less costly in Wisconsin lives and property to elect a new Governor on November 6th than wait for Walker to get his mind off sports and into the real world.