Clean Wisconsin is the oldest and largest state group dedicated to protecting Wisconsin's environment. With thousands of dedicated members and a staff of over twenty professionals, we aggressively and effectively advocate for clean air, clean water and clean energy in a wide array of venues including the State Capitol, the courts, and the Public Service Commission. We also work to inform the public about pressing environmental issues.
|Clean Wisconsin was founded as Wisconsin's Environmental Decade on Earth Day, 1970, by Peter Anderson and Douglas La Follette (now Secretary of State). Peter read that Doug La Follette, a progressive, was running for Congress and came to Wisconsin to work for him. Doug's loss in that election allowed time for him and Peter to found Wisconsin's Environmental Decade.|
|With the belief that the 1970's would be the beginning of a new environmental era, the duo named their organization Wisconsin's Environmental Decade. The first office was located in Racine, but only for a short time. They soon moved to Madison in order to be closer to the legislature, state agencies and the courts. The early days of the organization were tough; Peter earned only $20 per week, had no office, and often slept in the Capitol.|
|In 1973, to further develop the organization, a mailing to 2,000 known environmentalists raised about $10,000 and created 500 loyal members. On a meager budget, additional staff were added, including attorney Kathleen Falk (former Dane County Executive), and later Spencer Black (now a retired Wisconsin State Representative).|
The organization's name outlasted the decade. In 2003, Wisconsin's Environmental Decade changed its name to Clean Wisconsin. Representing its thousands of members, Clean Wisconsin continues to aggressively advocate for important environmental progress and is noted for its effectiveness in three areas: lobbying, litigation and citizen action.
- Legislation. Creating effective environmental laws means working closely with state government. Day in and day out, Clean Wisconsin staff make it a point to be in the Capitol, to know the legislators and to know every wrinkle of important environmental issues.
- Litigation. Strong environmental laws only protect the environment when they are enforced. When utilities and businesses break environmental laws, Clean Wisconsin uses litigation to ensure that state agencies fully enforce the law and violators are held accountable for their actions.
- Citizen Action and Education. When an environmental law is overturned or weakened, a quick response of phone calls, letters and emails from across the state can show policy makers the importance of maintaining strong environmental policies. Clean Wisconsin stands ready to alert our members and the public of such events with a large action network and responsive media department.
Due in part to Clean Wisconsin's activities, Wisconsin has a strong grassroots environmental ethic. Our state holds national prominence as a policy pioneer in environmental protection. Wisconsin's continued strength depends on people who believe its environment is worth fighting for. For over forty years, Clean Wisconsin has worked to ensure Wisconsin's environment remains clean and beautiful. With the support of our members, we look forward to continuing our mission in the coming decades.
"[Clean Wisconsin] has had a voice no regulatory agency could ignore in every major environmental decision since 1970."
— Milwaukee Sentinel
"I can't imagine Wisconsin without [Clean Wisconsin]! It has been an effective, respected defender of our state's natural heritage."
— Kathleen Falk, Dane County Executive