Letter: EPA violations not an excuse to create more pollution by John Kocovsky
Lately a reader from Minocqua and a number of other conservatives have used a news release from the right-wing hit squad Media Trackers to disparage the Bad River Tribe’s efforts to control mining waste run-off. While rightly reporting that the Bad River Tribe has had problems with a wastewater treatment plant, the real reason for the report had more to do with arming conservatives with more lame reasons why pollution for jobs is better than exceeding EPA limits. Are we to ignore the fact this is nothing more than part of a “pollute for jobs” drive intended to do away with the EPA? Why this sudden concern over the Bad River EPA violations? Because the Bad River Tribe has had EPA violations, is this justification for more pollution through mining?
Pat Hunt, the manager of the facility, when asked about the ongoing violations, said he “inherited a treatment facility and water and sewer system that had been for the most part ignored for many years.” And through his management, at least things will be improving and not getting worse.
As for the report, after checking its details, what stands out is that there are over 145 water polluters in Wisconsin, only seven of which are tribal. Of the 2,733 total violations cited, only 400 can be attributed to the tribes. Nationally, the Clean Water Act has been violated more than 506,000 times since 2004, by more than 23,000 companies and other facilities. In the nation’s largest dairy states, like Wisconsin and California, farmers have sprayed liquefied animal feces onto fields, where it has seeped into wells, causing severe infections. Tap water in parts of the Farm Belt, including cities in Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Indiana, has contained pesticides at concentrations that some scientists have linked to birth defects, fertility problems and possibly as a cause of autism. Research shows that fewer than 3 percent of Clean Water Act violations resulted in fines or other significant punishments by state officials. All of this supports another recent EPA report that stated 25 percent of all rivers in the U.S. are polluted.
What never ceases to amaze is that otherwise sane people accept the false claim of big business that jobs trump pollution. Are we to ignore the biblical charge to be good stewards of this earth, or will we continue to worship the “Almighty Dollar” and its ill-begotten son “Jobs?”
John Kocovsky, Hazelhurst