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, noted here, as did a Michigan public interest organization, FLOW.

These are the very kinds of headwinds I'd said six weeks ago would hit the project.

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.

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
###
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

 

Paul Ryan's wasted, corrosive House Speakership

[Updated from 5/23/18]: As Paul Ryan skips the DOJ briefings which Trump has manufactured for his own benefit, these from the Twitter feeds of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and NBC Capitol Hill reporter Kasie Hunt:
4 hours ago

By choosing not to attend the Gang of 8 meeting today, has abdicated his responsibility to the House & the American people.
    @Kasie 
I asked if he has any concerns at all that is doing lasting damage to FBI or DOJ. No, he said,



4 hours ago



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

If I hear one more cable TV news pundit throw Paul Ryan a 'he's-in-a-tough-spot' lifeline, I might call my satellite dish provider and have them come collect its equipment

He's not in a tough spot: we're in a tough spot.

Ryan is holding a treasured, historic, taxpayer-paid, perk-laden post with a super-sized staff, security detail and Constitutionally-defined authority as Speaker of the House of Representatives - - which puts him second in the line of succession to the Presidency.

It's a plum post with what is said to be the best view of the Nation's Capitol monuments that only a few dozen people in American history have ever held.

That's a tough spot? Please.

Being in a tough spot is trying to make ends meet when people like Ryan and his serve-the-rich, bigoted, nativist and callous caucus want to strip you of food assistance, health insurance, Medicare or voting rights. 

Or have made their number one priority The Saving of a Dangerous Presidency.

And the position Ryan disrespects by abandoning it and from which he may be bounced even more prematurely than he wants comes with so much political and budgetary power that all he needs to do is text any office holder or any reporter or any TV news anchor in DC or any lobbyist or CEO in town and they'll be in his office in a matter of minutes, hanging on his every word, buying what he's selling and anxious to remain in his Rolodex.

But there he sits, inert, unable or unwilling to do the basics and manage his solid House majority.

And uphold his oath of office by standing firm against renegade House Oversight and Intelligence committee chairs of his own appointment, and being a brave bulwark against a President openly flouting truth-telling and the Constitution on a daily basis.

A President with dictatorial impulses and dreams who is undermining right in front of Speaker Ryan the independence of the Justice Department and, for example, the public health and safety mission of the US EPA.

Where press freedom took a big hit yesterday, an agency where every official and employee draws a paycheck from a budget Ryan moved out of the House.

An agency where Ryan is fine with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's pro-pollution preferences, and where Ryan will do nothing to help make sure Pruitt does no further damage to the First Amendment.

And speaking of the Constitution, Speaker Ryan stands with the NRA and its distortion of the Second Amendment while blood-letting gun violence aimed at America's school children has become routine.

So Ryan has made himself into a lame duck.

But first, The Once and Former Deficit Hawk made sure to deliver the Koch brothers their tax cuts - - then announced his early retirement somehow comfortable with massive new deficits of his own creation.

Now it seems as if the Gohmerites whom he's coddled and caved to want him replaced with someone possessed of even fewer scruples than what Janesville's leading Ayn Randian and former leading GOP It Guy was said to possess.

The country would be better off if Ryan gave the poorly, paradoxically-named Freedom Caucus its wish and left early, thereby reducing by one the country's surplus of spineless clerks with little to do except picking up a check and watching a pension grow fatter.