Jul 24, 2015

Scott Walker's DNR: Stop Scientific Analysis

The map shows increase in annual mean surface concentration of
particulate matter resulting from ammonia emissions associated
with food export. Populated states in the Northeast and
Great Lakes region, where particulate matter formation is
promoted by upwind ammonia sources
, carry most of the cost
onto communities. Manure from livestock and fertilizer for crops
release ammonia to the atmosphere. In the air, ammonia mixes
with other emissions to form microscopic airborne particles,
or particulates. Image: NASA AQAST/Harvard University
Ammonia is "well recognized as a human toxin," note environmental health and biosystem experts

Lest there be any doubt Scott Walker, Wisconsin State Rep. Scott Krug (R-Nekoosa), and the GOP do the will of industrial polluting farms, an Associated Press piece by Todd Richmond makes the conclusion inescapable.

The Republican Party is the Party of pollution and will remain so.

Health and environmental consequences are of no concern.

Reports Richmond:

"Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who is seeking the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, controls the DNR. He has made it a point since taking office in 2011 to compact the agency’s regulations to help [polluting] businesses."

Richmond left out the word, "polluting," noting elsewhere: "The proposed list of projects that wouldn’t need environmental [DNR] review includes construction and renewal permits for minor air-pollution sources, defined as sources that emit less than 100 tons of any criteria air pollutant annually. Approval of construction plans for wastewater treatment plants and factory farm structures subject to DNR review wouldn’t require an analysis. Neither would decisions related to evaluating existing factory farm facilities and systems."

Air pollution from CAFOs (Confined Agricultural Feeding Operations) is dangerous and increasing (see chart, above-right), hence Walker's latest attempt to insulate CAFOs from legal and regulatory oversight in Wisconsin.

Ammonia is "well recognized as a human toxin," note environmental health and biosystem experts. (Merchant, Kline, Donham, Bundy, Hodne, University of Iowa College of Public Health)

"The most significant contributor to air pollution that stems from CAFOs is ammonia. Ammonia is the powerful odor that is associated with large farms. It is created by the decomposition of manure and the combination of nitrogen and hydrogen. When released into the air, ammonia tends to form very harmful particulate matter that can lead to serious health issues, especially for humans. A frightening statistic published in Environmental Science and Technology states that 'the health costs associated with ammonia emissions from agriculture exports to be $36 billion per year, equal to about half of the revenue generated by those same exports' (Fabien Paulot and Daniel Jacob (Harvard University), cited in Hansen, NASA). What’s frightening about this statistic is this is only in regards to the health costs associated with the exports we produce, not the agriculture industry as a whole. The United States exports only account for about 11 percent of the US emissions of ammonia, leaving the other 89 percent coming from the ammonia created to produce our own food. The negative externalities [health and economic costs bore by communities and citizens] caused by ammonia pollution don’t just extend to the area surrounding the CAFO, but affect areas within the downwind path of the CAFO where ammonia is able to mix with other man-made pollutants to form dangerous particles in the atmosphere. Similarly, air pollution stands in the same position as water pollution in regards to its dangerous impacts on the human condition and psyche," writes Joshua Yelle, (Research Fellow, Western Illinois University). (Mal Contends)

Big Ag polluters are being paid off handsomely by Wisconsin Republicans, shielded by Walker and Republicans who are blocking scientific analyses by the DNR.

"Republican lawmakers retained a Scott Walker proposal in the 2015-17 budget to eliminate nearly 20 research positions in the DNR’s Science Services Bureau," notes Richmond.

George Meyer, former DNR secretary and now executive director of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, said, "I hate hyperbole, but I can honestly say that this is one of the two worst conservation budgets in the past 50 years." (Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

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