Posted Feb. 12, 2014 by Richard Moore
When Scott Walker was elected governor in 2010, and the Republican Party secured majorities in both chambers of the Legislature, conservatives everywhere breathed a sigh of relief.
Alas, it was short-lived. The expansive state that had clogged the arteries of freedom did not recede as conservatives had hoped. Now, with old bureaucratic resolve and new regulations, the state is reasserting itself, constricting the blood flow of freedom in unprecedented fashion.
Yes, the governor has done some good things; nothing can take away from his collective bargaining reforms. Those reforms opened the door to prosperity, and, though they do not by themselves ensure that prosperity, we are grateful.
However, while important, an improved fiscal climate is not the end-all of conservatism. In an age when government seeks to insert itself into every aspect of life, to gain ever more control over our actions and decisions, over our property and our families, it is imperative not merely to better manage the bottom line but to reduce the absolute power, size and scope of government.
That brings us to giant state bureaucracies such as the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Transportation and others. Among them, the DNR stands out. It always has.
These bureaucracies are filled with partisan, protected activists who care not about the will of the people. They peddle leftist and globalist agendas, and they have the authority through administrative rules to enact them. They lust after power and absolute power, and no lawmaker has the guts to take them on.
That’s why I wrote How the DNR Stole Wisconsin back in 2008. Here’s what I said about the agency then: “The DNR runs roughshod over anyone who dares to question it. It uses intimidation, often hangs its hat on questionable science, makes up its own laws on the spot, enforces arbitrary, one-size-fits-all rules with often-absurd consequences, and lies and covers up when it has to.”
We all hoped that would change when Gov. Walker and company were elected.
But let’s be blunt: It has not. Worse yet, as one acquaintance said last week, nothing has changed at all. It’s as aggressive as ever. It’s the same old DNR.
To be sure, things looked promising in the beginning. Cathy Stepp came in to head the agency and proclaimed a new era of transparency. She promised to usher in a new culture in which citizens and businesses would be viewed as customers and partners, not as adversaries and polluters.
The governor promised to deal with the heavy-handed property grab the agency intended under the Doyle administration with its shoreland zoning code, built around absurd and confiscatory impervious surface standards.
Now, three years in, the truth has become known, and it is one of the most egregious and saddening sell-outs of principle for power I have ever seen.
Strong words, you say? Consider.
The bureaucracies are intact, with the same bad actors carrying out the same bad intentions. There is not a trace of transparency. The agency’s so-called business partnerships and sustainability projects are little more than a facade for stamping the state’s economy with U.N. globalism. The governor did not deal with shoreland zoning; it’s essentially the same heinous rule, the only difference is that Republicans are doing what we always feared Democrats would do.
In other words, the DNR continues to run roughshod over anyone who dares to question it. It continues to intimidate. It continues to employ phony science. It continues to make up its own laws and to enforce arbitrary, one-size-fits-all rules.
And so it is that I must, regrettably, publish How the DNR Stole Wisconsin, Part 2. Much of the book will revolve around the coming shoreland zoning rule, and how it represents an unprecedented expansion of state government power over private property and the lives of citizens.
Beyond NR115, much of Part 2 will analyze the DNR’s acceptance of bogus left-wing global warming projections, based on assessments offered up by none other than the United Nations in its now discredited 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. Those are bound to be science-based and objective, right?
None of this is abstract or irrelevant. The globalist agenda has local implications. Fake climate models showing catastrophic global warming – now conclusively proven wrong – are shaping DNR policy on everything from long-term master planning to land purchases to rare species management to dam removal to fish passage to rule-making.
And, of course, shoreland zoning.
In a sentence, The Times’ investigation on the influence of climate-change radicals on the DNR – many operating inside the agency – is nothing less than shocking. It demonstrates once and for all how unchecked leftist bureaucracies can thrive in supposedly conservative administrations.
Transparency was the first casualty. The Times asked the DNR specific questions about its climate-change activities because we wondered whether the agency might rethink its policy assumptions given new information. We wondered why the agency presented only one point of view on its web pages, and why it distributed one-sided propaganda to school teachers. We wondered why the agency later lied to us about doing so.
The DNR chose not to answer a single one of those questions, but instead offered up a patronizing generic platitude, and even that caught the DNR in a factual contradiction.
Here’s how DNR spokesman Bill Cosh answered all the newspaper’s questions, in a dark moment for transparency in the Scott Walker administration: “It is not DNR’s role to confirm nor deny climate change or its potential causes. However, it is the agency’s responsibility to adjust management strategies and decisions in response to changing environmental conditions, no matter the source. Therefore, DNR has several adaptation strategies in place to help guide management practices when there is evidence of changing environmental conditions.”
The problem for Mr. Cosh is, in its literature, in its public presentations, on its website, and in its policies the DNR has indeed confirmed climate change and has confirmed its cause – manmade greenhouse gas emissions. Its adaptation strategies revolve exclusively around those key assumptions without considering scientific dissent.
Don’t take my word for it. Just look at this pearl of wisdom from the 2007 IPCC report that Tim Asplund, the chief of the DNR Water Resources Monitoring Section, fed to new DNR employees in October 2012: ”Warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice, and rising global mean sea level.”
He went on to pitch the 2007 IPCC temperature projections.
So Mr. Cosh’s obfuscatory statement is an insult to Wisconsin residents everywhere, an embarrassing spout of gibberish. More insulting is the DNR’s stonewalling and lying in the first place. Not only did officials not answer the questions, they lied about their allegiance to the global warming agenda, and such a cover-up indicts them in the conspiracy as well.
There’s no other way to explain Mr. Cosh’s assurance in 2011 that a climate-change handbook for teachers had been discontinued, when in fact it is still distributed. The agency needs to perform a mea culpa and apologize for its dishonesty.
So much for transparency, what about sound science? Not that the lying could be justified if the science was good, but it’s worthless. It doesn’t exist. For example, the DNR continues to base its policy assessments on computer models that Dan Vimont, an assistant professor at the UW-Madison’s Center for Climatic Research, calls the “the world’s best computer models.”
Yikes! Those models – 114 out of 117 – haven’t been close in projecting temperature increases. Over the past 15 years, actual temperature warming is statistically close to zero, and more than four times less than what those same models projected.
Do we really believe they will accurately project what will happen in the next 37 years? I reject any claim these are the very best models in the world, but, even if they are, that doesn’t make them accurate. Either DNR officials believe we are too stupid to ever notice the snake oil they are pushing, or they are so stupid they actually believe the flawed data they have. Or both.
Three critical points emerge. First, the DNR is spending taxpayer time and money to push this propaganda. They use public facilities to meet and discuss their “adaptation strategies.” They would have us believe they mean adapting to climate change, but what they are discussing is how to get people to adapt to their radical political agenda.
They also send staff around the state trying to buy off municipalities with grants to install expensive infrastructure, all to prepare for coming climate catastrophes. It’s infrastructure these communities will never need.
Once these policies are foisted onto property owners and municipalities, local governments will dramatically raise taxes and permit fees. Once again, Wisconsinites would have to pay the price, not just with higher taxes but with their jobs, since the goal of those the DNR partners with is to work globally and locally to destroy the American economy and to shift power and wealth to nondemocratic Third World countries.
Second, as I stated before, these bitter clingers are not merely irrelevant, far-away bureaucrats. They have the power of the rules, and they are going to use that power to come after your money, your jobs, your property, and your constitutional rights, all in the name of saving you from yourself and your big fat carbon backside.
In the end, the buck stops with the agency’s leadership. True enough, the global-warming agenda is alive and well inside the DNR because civil-service protections give bureaucrats cover to pursue a partisan and extreme agenda. To achieve their desires, they change strategies and tactics like chameleons change colors.
To wit, once upon a time, until the state Supreme Court stopped it, the agency cited natural scenic beauty as a constitutional principle allowing it to confiscate private property rights in various ways. Not surprisingly, they defined natural scenic beauty as any landscape untouched by human hands. It followed that policies limiting development, especially in northern Wisconsin, were constitutionally responsible.
It was nonsense, and the high court got rid of it, but not to worry, comrades, the DNR had climate change to save them. And so they defined pollution – who can be against policies curbing pollution? – as having certain characteristics, such as being manmade; pollution, the DNR stated in its teachers’ guidebook (the one they say they don’t distribute) contrasts with the natural landscape.
Sounds suspiciously like anything that doesn’t comport with their idea of natural scenic beauty, doesn’t it? It isn’t just that development isn’t pretty, it’s going to cause us to roast in our Earthen oven.
Despite elections, these bureaucratic radicals cannot be fired, and so civil-service reform is a must. Until that firewall is stripped from them – and special interests will join the bureaucrats in a fight to the death to keep it in place – the long-term problem can’t be solved.
But in the short-term, agency leaders, as well as Gov. Scott Walker, could have neutralized the radicals inside the walls of the administration. They could have issued a wide range of directives as simple as requiring the presentation of both sides of a serious scientific debate, both to the public and to employees. They could have withdrawn one-sided propaganda. They could have suspended policy-making on the basis of outdated climate-change assumptions.
They could have placed different people in policy positions, and transferred the radicals to water-quality control in the restrooms.
But they did not. Instead, they have, at best, sat blindly by while the puppet masters directed them, or, at worst, they collaborated in a huge deceit with significant economic consequences. In either case, they should have been fired.
The silver lining is, at least the people will now know where the Walker administration stands on global warming. That’s good information heading into the 2014 elections.
First published in The Lakeland Times