Sunday, May 27, 2018

SE WI dirty air notices. And with Foxconn's 796-ton annual emissions...

[Updated 5/27/18] As the temperature and humidity soar, the US EPA forecasts - - using WI DNR information - - unhealthy air quality for key groups Saturday, Sunday and Monday in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Sheboygan counties.

Those counties are getting "orange" or "USG" Air Quality Index forecasts, meaning:
"Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups" AQI is 101 to 150. Although general public is not likely to be affected at this AQI range, people with lung disease, older adults and children are at a greater risk from exposure to ozone, whereas persons with heart and lung disease, older adults and children are at greater risk from the presence of particles in the air.
I checked again Sunday morning and the readings are still in the orange zone. 

Remember: In 2011, mere weeks after Walker took over and installed his 'chamber of commerce mentality" DNR management, the agency ended its posting of dirty air "watches" as conditions built towards the unhealthy level.

I'd posted the text of that change in policy, here, and will insure it below - - so people in Wisconsin for the last seven-plus years, as they will do all Memorial weekend so far, have headed out without the best air quality information in the DNR's possession. Negligence.
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.
More data, maps, trends, here

Not to mention the EPA kids’ book about what orange means for air quality. (Spoiler alert: use your inhalers, children, and don't play outside as long as you'd like.) Now run along, sort of.

So imagine adding the air pollutant increases granted by the DNR to the Racine County-based Foxconn - - estimated at an added 796 tons annually - - for an area which Trump's EPA now says does not have to meet stronger air quality conditions which Walker opposed.

Racine County - - do you and people living downwind understand that Foxconn is projected to add six percent more emissions to already-challenged air quality - - an amount spewed by a large paper mill?
Smoke stacks from a factory. 

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Walker gets the blame for poorly prepping Foxconn

[Updated from 5/14/14. The company may claim to be surprised, but Walker bears the blame for the backlash which is rooted in his anti-clean water/air and land actions and decisions by his Foxconn-compliant agencies - -  all of which he knew was coming.] 
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Gov. Walker says Foxconn is baffled by objections to its Racine County project, but it seems to me that Walker poorly prepped the company he aggressively wooed.
“They’re just confused, as you can imagine anyone would be from outside this state..."
No doubt Walker didn't urge Foxconn to study the Wisconsin Constitution before it began excavating on wetland-rich land to understand that water rights and access are so important here that they're embedded in the state constitution, according to information posed by the Walker-run DNR.

It's called the Public Trust Doctrine. Sounds rather pivotal, no?
The public trust doctrine
Canoeing 
Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone
Wisconsin lakes and rivers are public resources, owned in common by all Wisconsin citizens under the state's Public Trust Doctrine. Based on the state constitution, this doctrine has been further defined by case law and statute. 
Did they miss the uproar over the state's new embrace of wetland-filling which was piled on top of special privileges for Foxconn to do the same, and more to build into lakes and re-route streams without permits on the Racine County site it plans to plow, pave and otherwise disrupt?

And did Walker suggest that Foxconn take note of the multiple references to environmental preservation and priorities in the DNR mission statement?
To protect and enhance our natural resources:our air, land and water;our wildlife, fish and forestsand the ecosystems that sustain all life. 
To provide a healthy, sustainable environmentand a full range of outdoor opportunities. 
To ensure the right of all people to use and enjoy these resourcesin their work and leisure. 
To work with people to understand each other's viewsand to carry out the public will. 
And in this partnership consider the future and generations to follow.
He probably didn't tell Foxconn that the last time Wisconsin moved to divert Great Lakes water, the process took years and a final decision came with limitations laid down by the other Great Lakes states which indicated they were keeping a close eye on Wisconsin.

So, of course that would lead to greater scrutiny of the Foxconn diversion bid which is raising concerns all its own.

And I'm sure Walker didn't tell Foxconn that Wisconsin was home to some of the country's most important and influential conservationists, including John Muir, Aldo Leopold and Gaylord Nelson, and that it's Walker who is out of step here and not those legacy leaders and his bi-partisan predecessors in office.

This is all public record, consolidated here, and consolidated in a full archive, here.

And probably didn't tell Foxconn that people statewide who are driving on some of the worst roads in the country, and who know that their tax dollars are routinely spent on projects far from their smaller cities and towns, would be somewhere between suspicious and ticked off that billions from the state treasury are ticketed for decades to assist and subsidize a single, profitable multi-national business they'd never heard about, but whose jobs in Wisconsin will be easily accessible to people in Illinois.

If Walker told Foxconn he had everything under control, locked down and guaranteed, he omitted a lot of inconvenient facts and precedents.

And that's on him:

Plus Tweets galore - - 
May 8More"Gov. Walker: Michels Corporation will be subcontractor for Foxconn project" 
- - that feature GOP donors can't paper over or substitute for respecting Wisconsin values and history.

And Foxconn bares some responsibility, too, for perhaps listening too closely to a politician running for re-election desperate to fix his most egregious broken promise.



Friday, May 25, 2018

Multiple groups challenge Lake Michigan diversion spurred by Foxconn deal

A group of civic and environmental groups in two states want the WI DNR to defend before a judge its decision to send millions of gallons of Lake Michigan water daily outside of the Great Lakes basin principally for the Foxconn project in Mount Pleasant, Racine County.

Suggestions that the diversion was in conflict with a governing, US-Canada agreement, or Compact, were aired at the DNR's sole hearing in March, after which I wrote: 
I'm impressed with the strong, informed turnout and statements at the Foxconn diversion hearing reported Wednesday. 
"I’m worried that by fudging compact provisions and by allowing clear definitions to slide, it really does set a harmful precedent," said Jodi Habush Sinykin, with Midwest Environmental Advocates.
Midwest Environmental Advocates is the public interest law firm representing the groups challenging the DNR's diversion approval.

Separately, Illinois and New York, both members of the eight-state Compact, have expressed their own reservations about the diversion application which the DNR has approved, noted here, as did a Michigan public interest organization, FLOW.

These are the very kinds of environmental, legal and procedural headwinds I'd said six weeks ago would hit the project:
That application raised significant concerns at a public hearing last month about potentially-polluted wastewater from the project reaching the watershed, or Lake Michigan; the seven-million-gallon-daily diversion has been calculated equalling a line of 1,100 water tanker trucks fourteen miles long. 
And there has been reporting that other Great Lakes states are questioning whether the purpose of the diversion - - principally to support a new business - - meets the exception standards spelled out in a 2008 US-Canada Great Lakes management compact. 
At the heart of the objections is whether a diversion from the Great Lakes

sought to principally serve one private business not entirely within the Great Lakes basin meets the Compact's requirement that diversions serve a public purpose.

In other words, the integrity of an agreement to guarantee the integrity of the Great Lakes is at stake.

Here is a complete archive of items related to Foxconn since the project proposal surfaced in July.

How to see, for free, state parkland OK'ed for private development

First the WI DNR said a golf course developer and major Walker campaign donor could have a project-enabling wetland-fill permit.

Then the DNR and its oversight body said the project could have acreage inside the adjacent, popular Kohler Andrae State Park for a large maintenance/storage/vehicle building, parking lot and access road.

Now you can see that very acreage (below) - - 


- - before the bulldozers and chainsaws arrive, cut down more than 100 acres of trees, drive away the wildlife and overwhelm park-goers' peace of mind.

(Photos by Jim Buchholz, retired Kohler Andrae State Park superintendent)

That's because before an all-week hearing June 4th-8th in front of a judge in Sheboygan challenges the wetland permit - - and thus the legitimacy of the project and all state processes which Walker's agencies have enabled and green-lit - - you can come into the park for free on June 3rd and join in a day of nature appreciation that includes a visit to the very park acreage somehow declared expendable.

Here are the details from Friends of the Black River Forest - - so-named because the Black River runs through the timber/wetland/rare dune/native people's artifact/wildlife-rich nature preserve next to Kohler Andrae State Park - - a crown jewel in the state's highly-regarded state park system: 
------------------------------------------

HONOR THE EARTH GATHERING
KOHLER ANDRAE STATE PARK
JUNE 3, 5 P.M.

FREE PARK ADMISSION

WE WILL GATHER TO HONOR THE BEAUTIFUL PARK LAND WE STAND TO LOSE TO A GOLF COURSE 
DEVELOPER
WE WILL GATHER TO SUPPORT EACH OTHER IN OUR EFFORTS TO FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT TO SAVE OUR LAND, AIR, AND WATER

 BEGINNING AT 5P.M. WE WILL MEET  NORTH OF THE  PARK OFFICE AND WALK TO THE LAND WE ARE FIGHTING TO PRESERVE. A CEREMONY WILL BE HELD ON THE PARK LAND WHERE A MAINTENANCE, PESTICIDE, AND FUEL FACILITY ARE BEING PLANNED.
YOU ARE WELCOME TO EXPRESS YOUR SENTIMENTS, OFFER PRAYERS, POETRY, SONGS.
WE INTEND TO CONCLUDE BY 6:30.
                                     
MAP OF PARK

THE NEXT DAY, MONDAY JUNE 4 BEGINS FBRF VS. THE WSCONSIN DNR, 9 TO 4 P.M. (APPROX.) MEAD PUBLIC LIBRARY, THE LOFT, 3RD FLOOR. ALL ARE INVITED TO ATTEND.

FRIDAY MORNING, JUNE 8TH, THE PUBLIC WILL HAVE AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO THE ISSUES IN OUR CHALLENGE.

View our fundraising campaign at YouCaring. 
Our goal is $200,000 
We need YOU! 
Every dollar makes a difference!











Make sure WI GOP electeds own their full Trump credit

Former US national intelligence director James Clapper says Russia swung the 2016 election for Trump.

But while American constitutional norms are disappearing as fast as clean air , federal land protections and nuclear summit meetings, let's not forget that Trump had a powerful supporting cast in our key swing state who rightly get a share of the Trump installation credit, including:

* Ron Johnson, who endorsed Trump at the 2016 GOP National Convention.

* As did Walker. From the podium. In a televised slot he negotiated.

* And then there is the failing, self-diminishing House Speaker Paul Ryan, who, like the rest of the WI GOP congressional delegation, excused and otherwise served as reliable Trump valets before and after his Day One.

The Swamp overfloweth and the country is in crises, snd what of our home state enablers? 

Self-declared lame duck Johnson is beyond consequence. He'll have a second act on the lecture circuit telling anyone who'll listen that he hated his taxpayer-paid junket to DC cuz he didn' 'peal 'Bamacare.

Trump? Not RoJo's problem.

Walker is Foxconning and handing out pre-election $100 tax rebate checks like double-bonus Kohl's cash. Trump? Meh. Doesn't need him, Walker says.

And Ryan is running out the clock on a remarkably short and ineffective Speakership halfway through a Trump term, leaving the country holding the bag. 

Leadership.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, suit


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Pipeline win reported by Dane County activists

Good for Madison350.org
Click image for information about our Anti Tar Sands initiative
persistent champions of a clean environment.

For immediate release — May 24, 2018

Court of Appeals decision rebukes Enbridge’s bullying
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals today unanimously reversed a 2016 circuit court decision in the case of Enbridge v. Dane County

Circuit Court Judge Peter C. Anderson had overturned the requirement in Dane County’s conditional use permit that Enbridge purchase cleanup insurance before tripling the volume of dangerous tar sands oil flowing through Line 61, which runs near Marshall. Attorney Patricia Hammel, who led 350 Madison’s legal team together with Attorney Thomas Burney, credited the court with taking landowners’ concerns seriously, saying, “Our clients look forward to having insurance protection against a devastating tar sands spill and proof that Enbridge continues to have such insurance in force. We must protect people living by pipelines until we can stop relying on fossil fuels.”
Enbridge is a $130 billion foreign pipeline company, headquartered in Canada, that is seeking to massively expand pipeline capacity to ship tar sands oil from Alberta through the Midwest, just as TransCanada is seeking to do through the Great Plains with its Keystone XL pipeline. 
Tar sands oil is an especially dangerous type of oil for a number of reasons, according to 350 Madison’s Tar Sands Leader Mary Beth Elliott. First, it is abrasive and corrosive and thus more likely to cause leaks in a pipeline. Second, when it does leak, it is much more hazardous and essentially impossible to clean up because it sinks instead of floats in water. Third, because of its tar-like consistency, its extraction releases three times more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional crude oil. But added to these dangers, Elliott pointed out, is Enbridge’s terrible safety record: The company was responsible for more than 800 spills between 1999 and 2010, including the largest inland oil pipeline spill in U.S. history—the 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster, which cost $1.2 billion to only partially clean up.
350 Madison spokesperson Peter N. Anderson (no relation to the circuit court judge) applauded the Appeals Court decision as vindication of the group’s four-year campaign to protect the citizens of Wisconsin from liability for cleanup costs in the event of an Enbridge spill. It was 350 Madison that first pointed out that Enbridge needed to get a conditional use permit and that cleanup insurance should be a key condition.
Anderson added that the citizens of Dane County owe a huge debt to the members of the Dane County Zoning and Land Regulation Committee (including former and current Chairs Patrick Miles and Mary Kolar), who immediately understood the critical importance of requiring cleanup insurance to protect the county and committed the resources to getting it done. 
According to Anderson, the county resisted Enbridge’s pressure to take its word for it that the general liability policy it carried provided adequate protection. The committee understood the grossly inadequate nature of such policies and demanded a specific policy intended for environmental cleanups, called environmental impairment liability insurance. 
The Appeals Court decision sends the case back to the Zoning Committee for further proceedings. On remand, the committee is to determine whether Enbridge can make a showing that the insurance it carries meets the specific conditions created by an 11th-hour anonymous amendment to the 2015 State Budget—an amendment Enbridge claims it had nothing to with, even though it exclusively benefits the company. If Enbridge’s insurance meets those conditions, the amendment would void the insurance requirement, but the court’s recitation of the facts makes clear that there is little chance that it does. 
The decision is, in Anderson’s words, “a stunning victory for citizen activism, for an outstanding legal team, and a courageous County Board.” 
Questions? Looking for an interview? Contact: Peter Anderson (608) 231-1100
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The 350 Madison Climate Action Team is dedicated to achieving a just transition to a reduction in atmospheric CO2 below 350 parts per million (ppm) by working locally in concert with a powerful global movement.

Corporate raiders hit another unionized plant in Walker's WI

Walker can tweet all day long about the state's falling jobless rate, but the reality is that wages are down here, employment growth in Wisconsin lags the country's rate and is clustered in low-earning sectors while long-time employer-after-employer closes up here.

This just in:

The profiteers who run so-called private equity firms which have closed down WI paper mills and other firms just wiped out a long-time Watertown plant where 90% of the workers had union jobs.
Western Industries plant in Watertown to close, eliminating 85 jobs
About 70 hourly production and maintenance employees at the Watertown plant are represented by the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge No. 10 in Milwaukee. 
Meanwhile, Minnesota'e economy is putting Wisconsin's to shame, this recent non-partisan report shows:
As Wisconsin’s and Minnesota’s lawmakers took divergent paths, so did their economies 
Since 2010, Minnesota’s economy has performed far better for working families than Wisconsin’s