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Environmental problems abound, from livestock waste and rising temperatures to Lyme disease and industrial chemicals

Of note: This week we highlight several stories that focus on environmental issues, some of them previously explored by WCIJ. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel explores the influence of the Dairy Business Association in shaping changes in state regulation of large farms. Former WCIJ intern Tegan Wendland, now of New Orleans Public Radio, reports on how climate change could strain already decrepit infrastructure in that city.

The Country Today reveals that tick-caused disease in Wisconsin has shot up in recent years. And the Journal Sentinel examines the contamination of drinking water wells in Marinette caused by industrial chemicals suspected of causing cancer and other maladies.

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Andy is the executive director and Dee is the managing editor.

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Dairy group uses behind-the-scenes influence with Gov. Scott Walker to shift regulation of large livestock farms

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — July 6, 2018

In October, Gov. Scott Walker introduced a proposal to shift oversight of large dairy farms and other livestock operations from the Department of Natural Resources to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. State records show that one day before Walker’s October speech, the governor’s office received detailed plans from the Dairy Business Association on legal requirements and strategic options to move the program. Earlier from WCIJ: Fecal microbes found in 60 percent of sampled wells, raising concerns about dairy manure, septic waste.

Audio: How prepared is New Orleans for stronger storms and extreme temperatures?

The Lens — July 9, 2018

Scientists say climate change is going to bring more intense storms, heavier rainfall and higher temperatures. More than a decade after Hurricane Katrina, officials say the city is more protected than ever. But roads, water lines, drainage pipes and power lines all can be strained by extreme weather. From former WCIJ intern Tegan Wendland, The Lens and WWNO-FM explore how prepared the city is for the threats that climate change will bring. Earlier from WCIJ: Scientists unveil scenarios for 2070 life in Madison area.

In the Lyme-light: Wisconsin seeing unsettling uptick in Lyme disease cases, with rural areas in the bull’s-eye

The Country Today — July 9, 2018

Illnesses from tick bites in Wisconsin have tripled since 2004, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “When I first started here, there’d be about 400 cases a year that got reported to the state, and now it’s 4,000,” UW-Madison entomology professor and department chairwoman Susan Paskewitz said. “Last year was the most cases they’ve ever seen (in Wisconsin).”

Johnson Controls unit expands offer to treat tainted water tied to Marinette plant

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — July 11, 2018

Tyco Fire Products, a Johnson Controls-owned manufacturer, is providing additional water treatment systems to homes and businesses in Marinette where chemicals used by the company have been found in groundwater. A draft federal report showed people exposed to the chemicals face greater health risks to illnesses ranging from liver damage to cancer than previously known. Earlier from WCIJ: Safe, clean drinking water eludes many Wisconsinites.

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