John Imes, Wisconsin Examiner
October 27, 2023
In my years as a business owner, nonprofit leader and local elected official in Wisconsin, I’ve been asked to solve a lot of tricky problems by my employees, customers and constituents. I don’t always have the perfect answer, but the one thing I cannot do is stick my head into the sand.
Wisconsin, like every other state, is facing an uncertain future due to a shifting climate and diminishing natural resources. But instead of charging headfirst toward these problems, our lawmakers in the Wisconsin Legislature and in Congress have jumped headfirst into the sand. As they obstruct even the most basic environmental protections, job-killing climate catastrophe looms larger every day.
In fact, instead of working towards climate solutions, our representatives are busy dismantling the very policies that are proven to work. The widely popular Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) could help the U.S. cut emissions in half by 2030, while also creating millions of new jobs in the sustainable economy. But as the watchdog group Climate Power has shown in its new tracker, Congressional Republicans have voted 25 times to repeal all or part of the IRA in the past year.
The IRA – and our very future – has a bright red target on its back. If successful, these repeal efforts would increase deadly fossil fuel emissions, and cut funding for essential green infrastructure projects, rural energy improvements, and home efficiency rebates for millions of Americans.
Meanwhile, here in Wisconsin our state Legislature is practicing its own form of dysfunction, preventing climate-saving legislation by gumming up the works of democracy itself. Republican lawmakers have threatened to impeach a newly elected state Supreme Court justice and voted to fire the state election commissioner.
And they’re targeting climate protections directly. In an unprecedented move, the Wisconsin State Senate just voted to fire four of the governor’s appointees to the Natural Resources Board, and rejected eight nominees overall. For context, the Senate has rejected only five executive appointments over the past 40 years.
Now, the state Legislature is considering a dangerous new bill, Assembly Joint Resolution 6 (AJR6), which would amend the state constitution to give the Legislature itself control of federal funds. AJR6 could put a stranglehold on IRA funding to Wisconsin, including grants, loans, and business development incentives. Wisconsin could potentially lose critical funding to expand local clean energy technology, manufacturing of renewable energy, batteries, smart grids, electric vehicles and related components. Losing this funding would be a disaster both for our local climate and for Wisconsin’s economy. It’s a big reason why the Clean Economy Coalition of Wisconsin, a nonpartisan group of climate, energy, environmental justice and conservation organizations, businesses and allies opposes AJR6.
The clock is ticking. Every day our representatives play games in the statehouse and in Congress, we are another day closer to catastrophe. So far in 2023, the U.S. has seen an unprecedented 24 confirmed weather disaster events, resulting in hundreds of deaths and more than $1 billion in damages. That is triple the average number of weather disasters recorded from 1980 to 2022.
Every business owner knows that you don’t solve problems by creating bigger ones, and you certainly don’t play games in the face of a crisis. When it comes to saving our climate, there is no backup plan, no Plan B or C. If our leaders fail to act on climate change, these disasters will cripple our economy and our very lives. Either get the job done, or get out of the way.
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