Climate Change and Conservation
“Our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future.” John F. Kennedy
Wisconsin needs a Green New Deal. We can build an economy based on sustainability, economic fairness, and environmental justice.
In the state senate, I will work tirelessly to restore Wisconsin’s leadership role in the conservation movement. Protecting human health, recreation, and habitat for wildlife should be key conservation priorities for our leaders. We must responsibly steward Wisconsin’s natural water resources because all people have a right to a healthy environment, with clean air, water, and soil. These resources are critical to our way of life and two of our largest economic sectors – agriculture and tourism. Wisconsin needs clean air and water, and natural places to recreate, to serve our current residents, attract new people to our state, and thrive into the future. Protection and stewardship of our natural resources is a fundamental obligation of Wisconsin’s state government.
Climate change and the new energy economy must be recognized. Combating global climate change is our century’s challenge. The historic transition from fossil fuels to clean energy will create jobs and secure our children’s futures. Wisconsin must be a leader in a global effort to reduce carbon emissions and invest in sustainable energy. I will support legislation to:
• Increase renewable energy targets for utilities
• Invest in clean energy production and use
• Develop a modern “smart grid” to store and move power and respond to fluctuating energy demands
• Encourage utility pricing that supports rather than punishes clean energy
• Promote fiscal policies to reduce carbon discharge and promote clean energy
• Spur growth in Wisconsin’s existing “sensors and controls” industry – our state has over 200 homegrown companies in this sector that stand to benefit from clean energy policies
• Abide by the Paris Climate Accord
• Target Wisconsin to be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2050
Environmental law and order must be restored. We must stop allowing polluters to write their own permits with little oversight, and we must restore a robust enforcement of our environmental laws so that polluters pay to clean up the damage they cause. I will support efforts to:
• Restore the independent head of DNR, appointed by the Natural Resources Board to get politics out of regulatory decisions
• Remove political interference from DNR staff and increase agency morale — allow experts to discuss climate change and testify on proposed legislation, and stop overruling staff decisions to benefit political donors
• Expand DNR’s science staff and put science at the core of environmental decision making
• Fully fund DNR so they have adequate capacity to review permits and do ongoing inspection and enforcement
• Work with the Attorney General, DNR, and the EPA to ensure that all environmental laws are being followed, and those who break the law are held accountable
• Oppose irresponsible resource extraction, including frac sand and metallic mining – restore the requirement that all mining proposals pass stringent environmental standards
Responsible wildlife management is key to maintaining the ecosystem. Wisconsin’s great traditions of hunting, angling, trapping, and outdoorsmanship are threatened by the selling off of public lands and irresponsible wildlife resource management. I support efforts to:
• Allocate resources to stop invasive species, which devastate our ecosystems and cause massive economic damage as well. Invasive species like Asian carp, Asian Beetle, gypsy moths, emerald ash borer, zebra mussels, garlic mustard, common buckthorn, Japanese stiltgrass, Japanese hedge parsley, spotted knapweed, wild parsnip, and many others, disturb our native habitats and wreak havoc on our plant and animal populations.
• Take immediate action to stop the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease.
Land conservation must be upheld. Public lands belong in public hands; we must stop the selling off of our common natural heritage and preserve Wisconsin’s diverse landscapes, including natural areas, parks, hunting lands, and forests. In the legislature, I will:
- Propose a permanent funding stream for the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program to permanently protect critical land for future generations
- Foster a strong state partnership with local governments and voluntary groups working to preserve lakes, streams, marshes, and critical fish and wildlife habitat
- Make funds available to family farmers to transition to more sustainable agricultural practices
Clean water is a right. With some 15,000 lakes, two Great Lakes and thousands of miles of rivers and streams, water is the lifeblood of Wisconsin. It supports our whole way of life, including recreation, tourism, and agriculture. The legislature must support Gov. Evers in doing all he can to preserve and restore state waters, including:
• Vigorously enforce the Great Lakes Compact, and work with other states and provinces to protect the Great Lakes basin
• Ensure that CAFOs and factory farms comply with environmental laws to protect drinking water and lake and stream water quality, and refuse to permit new CAFOs in any area where it is geologically unsound to have massive herding operations
• Restore local authority to manage critical water resources in accord with local needs, including shorelands, waterways, and wetlands in partnership with the State.
• Work with farmers to manage nutrients effectively, to reduce runoff that causes algae blooms and degrades water quality and aquatic life
• Protect public access to lakes, rivers, and streams – all Wisconsinites should be able to enjoy our water resources, as the Public Trust Doctrine guarantees
Environmental justice must be protected. The quality of our air and water depends on where we live. I will work to ensure that economically disadvantaged areas and neighborhoods where people of color are predominant are not a dumping ground for pollution and the health problems left in their wake. This is especially important for residential areas where children live. The number one health reason children miss school is asthma, and a main driver of asthma is air pollution. We must resist all efforts, like those of Foxconn, to exceed established air pollution levels and will oppose the building of any new coal-fired power plants.
Renewable energy is Wisconsin’s future. Clean, renewable energy is the future of our state and our country. Investments in renewable energy will help protect our environment, preserve our natural resources, and create high-wage jobs right here in Wisconsin. We can make our state a leader in renewable energy technology. Our highly-skilled manufacturing workforce and world class research institutions make Wisconsin the perfect state to lead the way on the creation and implementation of new, clean energy technology.
Wisconsin was the first state to adopt a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) – which requires a certain amount of our energy to come from renewable sources. Since then, the rest of the country has passed us by. Wisconsin now has one of the lowest standards in the nation. We can ensure that 100% of Wisconsin’s energy that must come from clean, green, renewable sources by 2050. Solar, wind, and geothermal are great options for our state – benefitting our environment, our economy, and helping to ensure our energy security and independence.