Bob Haase’s Another Can of Worms

The Politics of Big Money, Phosphorus, and Blue Green Algae

The Senate and Assembly just passed a new phosphorous bill that gives everyone including businesses and agriculture 20 years to meet the phosphorous regulations that were established in 2010.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources established new guidelines in 2010 to comply with the National Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Most people will look at this and not think much about it.  Remember a couple years ago all the complaints about blue-green algae on Lake Winnebago.  These same complaints are being heard about lakes and rivers all across the state and people are demanding that something be done about it.  Will our legislature did something about with the phosphorous bill they just passed.  They gave everyone 20 more years to continue polluting our waters with the phosphorous that causes the blue-green algae and a lot of other environmental problems.  It can also cause fish kills and affect public health.

Now let’s talk about politics and big money because that is tied to the changes that just took place.  An article in April of 2011 talked about the connection of Koch Industries to Governor Walker’s campaign  for governor.  Koch industries contributed millions of dollars to Walker’s campaign through campaign advertising in Political Action Committees.  The New York Times pointed to the connection of Koch Industries ownership of Georgia Pacific Paper plants and Walker’s payback by environmental deregulation of phosphorous. 

Huge CAFO’s spreading liquid manure and the run-off into streams and lakes are another big cause of high levels of phosphorous in our lakes.  They are also huge users of water through high capacity wells.  How much did big agriculture contribute to Governor Walker’s campaign?  They got paid back by this phosphorous bill and will also gain if the high capacity well bill SB302 is passed.

It was projected last week that the cost for the coming election for Governor will probably be around $50 million dollars.  Where is this money coming from?  When people and businesses contribute that kind of money they want something in return.  Big business gains, we the people lose.!

Maybe it is time we put a cap on spending for political campaigns.  Maybe we the tax payers should fund the campaigns but put a limit on spending so that all candidates are playing on level ground and cannot accept funding from any other sources.   If this were to happen I guess they might have to answer to us rather than big campaign contributors.   It is time we wake up and voice our concerns that our elected officials are suppose to represent everyone equally, not those who contributed the most to their campaign.  It appears that the blue-green algae isn’t the only thing that smells.

Yes…. it will cost money to reduce phosphorous in our sewage treatment plants, but it would be a lot easier and less expensive if it were not in there to begin with.  Like many other things, we can pay now or pay later just like the clean up of PCB’s in the Fox River.  If they were not allowed be put in there to begin with, we would not be paying now to take them out.

Bob Haase is the host of “Outdoors Thursday” heard Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ.