Gov. Evers moves climate policy forward with formation of task force

Gov. Tony Evers
, By Jon Drewsen

MILWAUKEE — Clean Wisconsin applauds Gov. Tony Evers for signing an executive order at the Urban Ecology Center in Milwaukee on Thursday to establish a Climate Change Task Force. The task force will help to formulate a direction for climate change policies for Wisconsin.

Amber Meyer Smith, Clean Wisconsin’s vice president of programs and government relations, will sit on the task force.

“Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes are helping establish Wisconsin as a leader in the Midwest on efforts to tackle climate change,” said Meyer Smith. “The challenge of climate change is immense, and this task force will play a big role in shaping how we deal with it in Wisconsin.”

The Climate Change Task Force will be chaired by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and will include state agencies, lawmakers, and various interests. Through a lens of environmental justice, the task force will hold public hearings around the state, as well as assess research, review current climate actions, consult with tribal governments, and work with the UW system. They will then present a list of policy and legal recommendations to the governor.

“We’re already seeing the impacts of climate change here in Wisconsin,” said Meyer Smith. “This task force will be instrumental in helping to shape how we as a state make the transition to wind and solar energy and deal with the consequences of climate change. We’re pleased to be a part of those really important discussions.”

In August, the governor signed an executive order establishing a state goal of using 100% carbon-free energy by 2050; it also established an Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy. Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources has recommitted to playing an active role in climate change efforts, as they did prior to the Walker Administration.

“We’re pleased Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes are making clean energy and climate change a major priority,” said Meyer Smith. “It’s really important our state tackles this issue and helps local communities prepare for the effects we’re already experiencing if we want to leave our planet a safe place for our kids. The task force will be a major part of setting the direction of the state.”

In 2018, a rash of late summer heavy rain events left communities across Wisconsin under water due to major flooding. Costs due to flood damage are estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As the climate continues to warm, the science community estimates that more heavy rain events and flooding will impact communities statewide.

“It’s incumbent upon all decision-makers to take this issue seriously and join Gov. Evers in promoting clean energy, boosting our economy, creating jobs, and solving climate change,” said Meyer Smith. “This isn’t an issue that will go away on its own. We need to take serious, collective action to curb carbon emissions and prepare Wisconsin communities to deal with the impacts.”