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The new DNR priorities

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The new DNR priorities

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Dec 10, 2011 5:57 pm

These two recent media reports clearly demonstrate where Walker's Department of Natural Resources is going. On the one hand there is this attempt to draw tourism by praising our state's natural beauty and our abundant wildlife.

DNR starts YouTube channel
The Department of Natural Resources plans to post video stories about Wisconsin's wildlife on a new YouTube channel.

The videos will also be about outdoor recreation, natural resources and DNR staff, organizations and other subjects.


On the other hand, cuts in staff has led to environmental carcinogens to go undetected and our ideal landscape to suffer egregious harm.

Northern Wisconsin sand mining boom includes new jobs, new problems
A controversial natural gas mining technique called "fracking" is creating a boom in Wisconsin sand mines with more than 20 new mines proposed, including some as large as 500 acres or more.

While the mines bring jobs, they also bring dust, traffic and other problems that the state Department of Natural Resources and local governments aren't prepared to deal with, residents and government officials said at a recent conference on "frac sands."

"The state is woefully unprepared for this," said state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma. "We're regulating sand mines like we regulate gravel pits. There is a big difference between a one-acre gravel pit and a 900-acre sand mine."
...


The state Department of Natural Resources has been caught somewhat off guard by the swarm of sand mining companies looking to build new mines and processing plants or expand existing operations. For example, while the agency can regulate silica dust particles — which have been linked in studies to cancer in occupational settings — it is severely hampered in its oversight of dust at mine sites by a dramatically downsized staff, according to William Baumann, who is in charge of air standard compliance at the DNR.

"We have not very frequently been inspecting these sources," Baumann said. He said the agency has the equivalent of two full-time positions statewide to deal with permitting and inspection of silica sand mines.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby gargantua » Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:29 pm

This is but one part of what Walker meant when he said Wisconsin is "open for business".

You've got tax breaks and giveaways. You've got new laws limiting the ability of consumers to sue when harmed by defective products. You've got permitting processes that are streamlined to limit public input and favor developers and industry.

And you've got an understaffed DNR led by people who don't really believe in the agency's mission. Surely no one is surprised by this.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby bdog » Sat Dec 10, 2011 11:48 pm

So Henry, you think our exploitation of our natural resources is about right where it's at now?

Or do you think it needs to be less than where it's at now?

How are you contributing to that?

Do you own and drive a gas powered vehicle?

I just want to get a sense of what you think is the correct level of exploitation, thanks.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby rabble » Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:09 am

You don't feel it might be a good idea to tell us where YOU stand on such issues as long as you're asking? Cause it looks like you're a drill here drill now kinda dog.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby fisticuffs » Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:58 am

We drill plenty right now. If we sucked every bit of oil out of the earth and burned it all we'd still have an energy problem, a bigger one actually. Henry may have a gasoline powered car in 2011 but I'm not sure he won't have several better options as early as next year and in five years? It's time to stop subsidizing 1920's technology and start subsidizing 2020. Those who belittle "green jobs" and such are short sighted fools. Every last one.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby bdog » Sun Dec 11, 2011 10:44 am

I've seen a couple of the "peak oil" documentaries and I agree we are in for a reckoning and it won't be pretty.

I just think Henry is being disingenuous about the sand mines. I'm betting all the existing mines were opened under prior administrations, and all those administrations had tourism campaigns similar to what we have under Walker.

I think there's some nimbyism at work here too. But I admit I've never been around one of these huge sand mines.

Can anyone here give a first hand account?
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:04 pm

bdog wrote:Can anyone here give a first hand account?

Did you read the full article I linked to, or just the short excerpt I quoted? The full article has first hand information. Then ask yourself, if you brought rural property and a huge mining operation opened close by, what would your reaction be?
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby bdog » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:21 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:
bdog wrote:Can anyone here give a first hand account?

Did you read the full article I linked to, or just the short excerpt I quoted? The full article has first hand information. Then ask yourself, if you brought rural property and a huge mining operation opened close by, what would your reaction be?

Yup, just read it again to confirm: there are no first hand accounts.

There ARE firsthand fears expressed, which I suppose would be my reaction if I was in their shoes. I just don't know that the fears are what the reality is.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Dec 11, 2011 1:55 pm

Check out the photo of the waste berm at the left of the main article. Here is the caption:
A large berm appeared above the tree line when Unimin Mining Company began clearing land along highway 21 west of Tunnel City, Wis., according to Jamie Gregar, who lives on the other side of the ridge near Tunnel City.


From the main article:
While sand companies and others tout the economic benefits of the mines, the boom has left some families and the rural towns in which they live dealing with changed landscapes, blowing silica dust, around-the-clock noise and glaring lights, heavy truck traffic and water pollution.

Jamie Gregar loves staring into the distant countryside from her home in the hills near Tunnel City in Monroe County. The vistas, she said, are a big part of the reason she and her husband bought the home last year and looked forward to raising their three young children on what seemed to be astorybook slice of Wisconsin's landscape.

Recently, the Gregars discovered a silica sand mining company, Unimin, purchased 1,000 acres around their subdivision and has begun building a large sand mine that will dramatically change their bucolic view.


And also remember, silica dust is a known carcinogen.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby Henry Vilas » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:05 am

Now the GOP is floating a plan for the DNR to sell off "non-environmentally sensitive" state land. Warren Knowles, a former Republican governor, was instrumental in starting the state stewardship program and land trust. Being a conservative used to mean conserving. Not anymore.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby DCB » Mon Dec 12, 2011 10:24 am

Henry Vilas wrote:Now the GOP is floating a plan for the DNR to sell off "non-environmentally sensitive" state land.


you mean this? yeah, that's ridiculous.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby narcoleptish » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:18 am

From the article:

"The burgeoning industry has brought more jobs and an economic boost to Wisconsin, according to Jay Alston, the chief executive officer of Hi-Crush Proppants, one of the nation's major sand mining companies and a big player in the industry in Wisconsin.

Alston said the company's Wyeville mining operation near Tomah employs 43 workers and wages average $18 an hour. He estimated the boost to the local economy from wage earners alone at the mine to be more than $100,000 a year. Most mining operations in the state are similar, he added, with the number of workers probably averaging near 30 per mine.

"It is a substantial impact," Alston said. "This should be good for Wisconsin's economy."


I know these mines have to exist somewhere and I'm not trying to say they should be in someone elses backyard, but this guy should just keep his fucking mouth shut instead of trying to spin the benefit-to-destruction ratio of one of these mines into a good thing. Is 100K a year into the local economy really worth destroying a square mile of the countryside? That seems low, I hope it's a misprint.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby kurt_w » Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:27 am

Yeah, that's a bit odd. $100,000 per year divided by 43 workers equals ~$2,300 per worker. I don't know how you calculate the "benefit to the local economy" but I would expect that most people would spend more than $2300 per year in their local economy.

So, yeah, it does seem surprisingly low.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby Henry Vilas » Tue Dec 20, 2011 4:18 pm

On a related note:
Who wrote the Assembly's mining bill?

That's what many people wanted to know after a public hearing last Wednesday at State Fair Park when Republicans declined to provide details on who authored the legislation and whom they relied on for help.

Now, details are emerging:

The bill was largely written by five Republicans and their staffs who huddled for months with different parties, including the business lobby Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce and representatives of iron ore mining company Gogebic Taconite, which wants to construct a mine in northern Wisconsin.

The Department of Natural Resources's top mining expert, Ann Coakley, and Deputy DNR Secretary Matt Moroney were consulted, Moroney said. But lawmakers said they didn't brief environmental or wildlife groups.


Full jsonline story.
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Re: The new DNR priorities

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Jan 15, 2012 3:36 pm

I thought about starting a new discussion, but this will fit here. The GOP controlled state legislature wants to push through four major bills before the recall elections, since they might not be able to do so later.

They mainly have to do with environmental concerns, so passage will hamstring the DNR in its role as environmental protector.

Republicans who control the Legislature have their sights set on passing just four major bills and little else during the session that begins Tuesday.
...

The four major bills Republican leaders say they are working to pass would clear the way for an iron ore mine in northern Wisconsin, ease laws related to developing on wetlands and environmental regulation, and create a venture capital fund to assist start-up businesses.


channel3000.com
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