Letter from the President

Mark Redsten, President & CEO.
, By Mark Redsten

The changing climate is impacting our health, safety, and the economic well-being of every community in our state, with communities of color and low-income communities disproportionately affected. Yet Wisconsin has one of the dirtiest electric grids and the 8th largest agriculture sector in the country, where climate emissions are increasing, not decreasing. Adding to the challenges of climate change, millions more Wisconsinites suffer from real drinking water challenges, from PFAS to nitrates and pesticides.  

In October, Clean Wisconsin adopted a new strategic plan to focus on the above concerns and the most important environmental work where our efforts will make the biggest difference. We’ll continue our focus on cleaning up Wisconsin’s electric grid and our state’s drinking water supply.  But we’ll add new initiatives, expanding our resilient communities work beyond the northwest side of Milwaukee; making buildings more energy efficient with better indoor air quality; accelerating climate-friendly agricultural practices and “natural climate solutions”; and developing an environmental health science program, just to name a few. The Defender stories in this article highlight work in some of these areas. 

This issue features a story on the new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Maps from our Natural Climate Solutions manager, and what the new maps mean for farmers and gardeners as we adjust to a changing climate.  Our Director of Water and Agriculture, Sara Walling, explains opportunities within the Farm Bill to help direct resources and change behaviors to encourage more climate-friendly agriculture. 

You’ll also get an update on an important “grazing” bill making its way through the state legislature, where our policy experts are working with key partners in the ag community, like the Dairy Business Association and others. This bill is one example of big system changes required to reduce climate emissions from agriculture and improve water quality in Wisconsin. 

Staff Attorney Evan Feinauer discusses the Governor’s lawsuit claiming GOP legislators are unlawfully obstructing basic government functions. The outcome of that lawsuit will have a big impact on how we advance policy solutions, like improved building codes, in Wisconsin. 

If we are to address our state’s overreliance on fossil fuel electricity, we need more utility-scale wind and solar energy projects. In “Under the Lens”, our Science Program Director, Paul Mathewson, discusses the facts of bird and bat mortality from wind turbines and why fossil fuel is a far bigger threat to these important species. Our Staff Attorney Brett Korte also debriefs us on the most recent electric rate cases at the PSC and our work to promote the changes needed for fair electric rates and a cleaner grid. 

With knowledge and conviction that comes from 53 years of fighting hard for needed environmental change, our team is more excited and ready than ever before to combat climate change and protect the health and well-being of ALL Wisconsin residents. Thanks for your support that makes it possible!