it is once again Earth Day, a day with deep ties to Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, and the Wisconsin Idea. Sadly the last few years have seen massive retrenchment in our commitment to the environment as a country. Our state, under Governor Walker's leadership, seems to have left no stone unturned while looking for ways to lessen our protection of the environment.
On a happier note, I joined many local Menomonie folks this morning on an Earth Day march for belief in Climate Change, and belief in Science. You would not think that in 2017 it would take an organized effort to convince the country to believe in science, but in the current political climate this is apparently a revolutionary idea. I urge you all to join the revolution.
When it comes to paying the bills you’ve got to deal with what’s real. You can’t spend rhetoric.
Lawmakers are doubling down to deal with the state budget. Public hearings and town hall meetings are scheduled across the state. Many civic groups are hosting legislators in a discussion of the state budget. Many are burning the midnight oil to get to the bottom of the state’s financial matters.
Though it is often said that everything old is new again, I have to say I was surprised to see that an old childhood friend of mine is once again relevant. Old feelings I have not had since the Cuban Missile Crisis have raised their ugly heads again, but I am pretty sure that Kennedy could tell the differrence between ships heading to Cuba and ships heading away - somehow the fact that the current administration cannot tell where our own ships are heading is disconcerrting. In that spirit - I bring you the re-awakening of my childhood fears in the body of Bert the Turtle.
“Obamacare is the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told the nation. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
The much-maligned Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010 will stay in place.
Self-employed older Americans and state budget directors breathed a sigh of relief. The Republican plan would have raised rates for older people on Healthcare.gov, shifted taxes away from the well-off, and shifted to states more costs for low-income, disabled and elderly (through Medicaid).
But the problems of the ACA – rising premiums, customers left with little choice and insurance companies leaving the marketplace in some states – still remain.
A hearing was held today about the re-issuance of the WPDES permit for Cranberry Creek Farm. Cranberry Creek is asking to expand from approximately 2000 cows to over 7000. May testified at the hearing today, raising various issues with the state of the permit application, while also questioning the wisdom of a farm fo that scale in an area that is already suffering from groundwater degradation.
This is the second application that has been filed for the farm. The first was contentious because it seemed in many areas to be incomplete or inaccurate, including listing other properties for manure spreading for which no agreement had been made.
We went out and videotaped the testimony today - it is long, but you will find that many of the people testifying were well prepared and convincing.
“The bottom line is: Are waters meeting water quality standards?” George Meyer told the Audit Committee at a recent hearing.
“[Wisconsin is] adding hundreds of impaired waters every year,” Mr. Meyer added. “It’s because of discharged nitrates and phosphorus.”
“Regulations and laws are only as good as enforcement.” Mr. Meyer said. “In the last few years [there has been] a substantial reduction in enforcement actions both in the wildlife area and the environmental area.”
Mr. Meyer knows about enforcing laws to protect our natural resources. For eight years, he served as the DNR Secretary under Governor Thompson. His 30-year DNR career also included ten years as head of the department’s enforcement efforts. He now runs Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, a nonpartisan coalition of nearly 200 conservation groups.
The Audit Committee was examining the findings of the Legislative Audit Bureau’s review of ten years of permitting, monitoring and enforcement of wastewater discharge. DNR is responsible for monitoring water discharged from about 350 industrial permittees and 650 municipal permittees and about 250 large farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs) – mostly dairies.