Wisconsin’s Smoky Summer Should Be a Wakeup Call for Policymakers

Wildfire smoke over Lake Monona

Wisconsin is once again experiencing some of the most dangerous air quality in the world as smoke from Canadian wildfires blankets our region. During a time of the year when Wisconsinites relish being outdoors, people across the state are being warned to stay inside.

“We cannot accept this as our new normal in Wisconsin,” says Clean Wisconsin climate, energy and air program director Chelsea Chandler. “The public health threat that we’ve been enduring for weeks must be a wakeup call for policymakers. Fires in places like Canada and the western United States are both products and causes of climate change. There is action we can take right now to ensure that Wisconsin is part of the climate solution.”

Chandler says that while recent federal action on climate change will have an impact, it’s not enough on its own. More work needs to be done at the state level in Wisconsin, including:

  • Rapidly shutting down Wisconsin’s remaining coal power plants
  • Drastically increasing funding for programs that help Wisconsinites save energy and money
  • Investing in public transit and electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • Supporting large-scale wind and solar development
  • Removing barriers to rooftop and community solar
  • Incentivizing farming practices that truly store carbon in the soil and restore soil health
  • Ending investments in fossil fuel infrastructure like new methane gas plants and oil pipelines

”These ideas are not new; in fact, many other states are already taking action. For example, Wisconsin is last in the Midwest when it comes to wind energy production, far behind our neighbors.” Chandler says. “We’ve got to realize that Wisconsin is not an island. No community is safe from the impacts of climate change. The question is, what are we – and our state leaders – doing to help?”