DNR blacklisted 16 viewed as pests, chronic complainers

Updated Feb. 26, 2016

Madison— The state Department of Natural Resources blacklisted a group of 16 citizens and activists with complaints about how the agency managed wildlife and administered clean water and other rules.

Being put on the “do not respond” list was supposed to mean that going forward agency staff would not respond to the complainants except for those responses required by the state’s open records law.

One of the people on that list was Owen Buske, a 78-year-old Franklin man who said that he had ended up paying more than $16,000 to install a new well on his property after problems with contamination of another well that he shared with two other parties.

Buske said he called about 20 different DNR employees for a total of 40 times in an unsuccessful attempt to improve the well and his drinking water but was respectful.

“I found it to be incredibly disappointing,” he said of the experience.

DNR spokesman George Althoff said that state staff had responded to all the people on the list at some point in their contacts with the agency.

The DNR has found itself under criticism in recent months for not being transparent enough with the public about how the agency administers environmental protections as well as game and fish laws. Other state officials have also faced opposition for seeking to limit access to open records.

Environmentalists have sued the DNR twice since December over the length of time they must wait for records they have requested. Also, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Feb. 5 that the DNR screens and shepherds records requests deemed politically sensitive by running them past political appointees before the records were released.

The do-not-respond list, which is marked “confidential” at the top of it, was released to the newspaper under the open records law.

Althoff said in an email that the list was created in around 2013 by an unnamed administrative assistant to help track contacts from people who were deemed either very repetitive or abusive.

Names were referred to the list by a variety of DNR officials, including Mike Bruhn, then the No. 3 official at the agency, and by the office of Secretary Cathy Stepp. The last name was added to the list in early 2015, Althoff said. Stepp was appointed by Walker and she in turn appointed Bruhn.


List of those “blacklisted:”
Greg Graunke
Mark Tillotson
Roger Kerr
Patricia Randolph
Paul Wennesheimer
John Weisbrod
Dennis Hoeser
Lyle Zimmerman
Armond Alsteen
Lynn and Nancy Utesch
Tom School
The Sprecher family: Terry, Dawn, and Milton
John Rasmuessen
Tom Miller
Owen Buske
Karen Gething

Bakken oil field in slow steady decline (Peak Oil Barrel)

What does this mean for us in Wisconsin, who watch big trainloads of our farmland shipping out of state on gigantic railcar shipments, often with over 100 cars to a shipment?  Will the frac-sand mining industry start to die?  And will we muster the political will to kill off that industry before too more more devastation goes on?

Stay tuned. Look up Frac Sand Industry Awareness in Wisconsin, a facebook page dedicated to the people and disappearing lands of western Wisconsin.


From the Director’s Cut
Producing Wells
November 13,100
December 13,119 (preliminary)(all time high was Oct 2015 13,190)
10,756 wells or 82% are now unconventional Bakken–Three forks wells
2,363 wells or 18% produce from legacy conventional pools.

November 125 drilling and 0 seismic
December 95 drilling and 0 seismic
January 78 drilling and 0 seismic (all time high was 370 in 10/2012)

ND Sweet Crude Price
November $32.16/barrel
December $27.57/barrel
January $21.13/barrel
Today’s $16.50/barrel
(lowest since February 2002)(all-time high was $136.29 7/3/2008)

Rig Count
November 64
December 64
January 52
Today’s rig count is 41 (lowest since July 2009 when it was 40)(all-time high was 218 on 5/29/2012)
The statewide rig count is down 81% from the high and in the five most active counties rig count is down as follows:
Divide -85% (high was 3/2013)
Dunn -76% (high was 6/2012)
McKenzie -75% (high was 1/2014)
Mountrail -88% (high was 6/2011)
Williams -90% (high was 10/2014)

The rest is on Peak Oil Barrel. Now you go read that

League of Conservation Voters “Disappointed” in Rep. Krug (72nd)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, February 16th, 2016
CONTACT: Kerry Schumann, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, 608-208-1123

Death by a Thousand Straws (AB 874)
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Statement

MADISON, WI -- Today, the Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry held an
executive session committee vote on Death by a Thousand Straws, AB 874. The high
capacity well bill was voted out of committee by a 7-6 vote, and will be on the floor of the full
Assembly on Thursday. In response, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Executive
Director, Kerry Schumann, issued the following statement:
"From the start, the intent of the Death by a Thousand Straws Bill has been
clear. Big Ag has lobbied legislators to advance the interests of their thirsty
clients at the expense of the states valuable groundwater and the many people
who rely on it.
"Today, in the year 2016, there are people whose drinking water wells are
running dry and lakes and rivers are drying up because high capacity wells are
over pumping our groundwater supply. Yet, Death by a Thousand Straws
moves forward and heads to the floor of the Assembly later this week.
"We are very concerned that, despite an outpouring of opposition from
thousands of Wisconsinites, including many who are directly impacted by loss
of groundwater, legislators chose to listen to special interests rather than their
constituents. We have a real groundwater crisis in this state and Death by a
Thousand Straws not only refuses to address this problem – it makes it so we
can never reach a commonsense, bipartisan solution.
The people of Wisconsin -- especially those affected by careless and
irresponsible groundwater management -- deserve better."
Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters was disappointed to see Representatives Mursau,
Krug, Czaja, Kitchens, Swearingen, Edming, and R. Brooks vote in favor of AB 874 during
the executive session committee vote. Representatives Mason, Milroy, Hebl, Stuck,
Considine, and Allen voted against the bill.

Full Press Release as PDF File