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Is Walker in Complete Denial on the Environment?

Issue of the Week

Jul. 28, 2015
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It’s no secret that Gov. Scott Walker is trying to be the most radical “conservative” in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. But his recent proposal to gut the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that not only is he a rabid right-winger, he’s living in denial. The presidential wannabe seems to believe that science just gets in the way and that pollution is contained within state borders and that a weak or politically biased state agency can regulate pollution on its own, without federal oversight.

On Monday, Walker told the conservative Washington Examiner that if elected he’d take an axe to the EPA and allow states to take over virtually all environmental regulation. Think about the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) under Walker. It’s had a terrible record on protecting the environment—one of the reasons why Mother Jones magazine called Walker “the worst candidate for the environment.” Walker appointed a developer to head the agency and has promoted business interests over the environment at almost every turn. According to a report in the Wisconsin State Journal, the EPA issued a “finding of failure” to the DNR for not creating plans to reduce emissions from smokestacks, the DNR’s waste water pollution permit program isn’t up to snuff, and Walker allowed indirect campaign contributor Gogebic Taconite to chip away environmental protections in its attempt to launch a massive iron mine in northern Wisconsin. Even worse, in his budget Walker fired DNR scientists and staffers to cripple its research. Perhaps the last straw was the resignation of Tia Nelson—daughter of former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day—as commissioner of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands. Nelson called the administration’s anti-science and anti-climate change advocacy “irresponsible to the extreme” and “disconcerting.”

Walker’s proposal to gut the EPA is shortsighted and irresponsible. His tenure shows just how easy it is for an anti-science, pro-corporate governor to weaken a state DNR in favor of big polluters and big campaign donors. And his lack of interest in combating climate change shows that he simply isn’t living in the 21st century, where science trumps magical thinking.


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