Wednesday, December 9, 2020

WI Climate Change action plan a welcome, long-overdue blueprint

A few words about the release today of the state's climate change report organized by a task force named by Gov. Tony Evers and chaired by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes:

* While I have only read the Executive Summary, I like the focus - 

The recommendations found in this report are intended to lay the foundation for the state to better adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, while also seeking economic opportunities in renewable energy and conservation....Because the economic and human costs of climate change are far too great to ignore, it is imperative that the Governor, his administration, and the state legislature all take meaningful action to combat the climate crisis. While the COVID-19 pandemic has created significant barriers for our state, including fiscal barriers, there is opportunity to stimulate the economy through job creation in clean energy and conservation.

 *  I also respect the action areas around which the Task Force and citizen commentators organized the report:

Climate justice and equity, Energy, Transportation, Agriculture, Resilient Systems, Clean Energy, Education and a supplementary grouping of 'Tier 2' interests requiring further refinement. 

So I see a lot of work and promise to praise. 

Remember, this is not some follow-up document which builds on a solid foundation, because Wisconsin was set back by eight years of intentional environmental damage, climate change denial, budget cuts, staff purges and delays in proven, clean technologies - as a matter of policy and blunt-force, partisan and special-interest willfulness.

Wisconsin wind farm, east of Waupun
Walker slowed the installation of clean solar and wind energy production. This wind farm in Brownsville, east of Waupun, was commissioned in 2008.

And in particular by undermining, even shelving science when Walker's DNR scrubbed climate science and resources from its website and repeatedly through policy and litigation - 

Scott Walker bars state agencies from complying with Clean Power Plan

enabled waterway polluters, corporate special interests and resource exploiters at the expense of clean air, clean tap water, environmental justice and public health.

That said, we know that the GOP-controlled State Legislature and corporately-obeisant Wisconsin Supreme Court are likely to re-enforce many of the barriers to science and sound public policy which the Task Force aims to remove.

But this is how things are; realists who are in it for the long haul understand how we got here and will view the Task Force report as a blueprint. 

A final thought:

The speed with which COVID19 vaccines have been produced will advance the credibility of science, and that, in turn, will help promote to science-based recognition of and solutions to climate-related problems in Wisconsin which are already underway, from threats to forests and harm to fish stocks to changes in precipitation patterns which are having harmful and costly impacts on agriculture, recreation, taxpayer-funded infrastructure and public budgets.

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