Tag Archives: green

Immigrants’ rights must be protected from further attack

Earthjustice, Sierra Club, NRDC and Defenders of Wildlife are calling for an end to the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants. Earthjustice also is supporting the Bridge Act, which would extend Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals for three years.

The statement from Earthjustice president Trip Van Noppen:

Earthjustice holds as a foundational principle that every human being has a fundamental right to a clean and healthy environment.

Inherent in that right is the ability to participate in democratic decision-making affecting one’s health and access to a fair and impartial judiciary to ensure that the laws and rules meant to protect public health and the environment are enforced with fairness and equality.

Unfortunately, millions of individuals are denied this ability to protect their own health and that of their children because to do so would risk retaliation, incarceration, deportation and separation from their families.

The short-sighted measures taken yesterday by the Trump administration will bring dire consequences and compromise the future of mixed-status households with U.S. citizens who depend on their undocumented family members and share the fears, apprehensions, and exclusions with their loved ones.

In 2014, we applauded the Obama administration for taking steps to eliminate the threat of deportation for millions of immigrants who have become an intrinsic part of our communities and the nation as a whole. Their contributions to this country exemplify the best in our values. We stand firmly by the belief that without the fear of intimidation or removal, immigrant communities will be better positioned to stand up for their fundamental rights, including a right to a safe and healthy environment for their families. To shut down their voices by planting fear with ill-conceived walls, counterproductive enforcement procedures, and by trying to defund sanctuary cities undermines basic rights and is inherently un-American.

Rather than try to tear families and communities apart, the administration and Congress should step up to its responsibility to provide relief. This is why we are joining in solidarity with our partners in the Latino and civil rights community in urging Congress to pass the “BRIDGE Act;” a bill that would provide Dreamers with a temporary reprieve from deportation on terms similar to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

This bill would protect many of the millions of aspiring Americans whose ability to secure justice and thrive is hampered by their immigration status. Immigrants play a fundamental role in our country, they live, work, and pray among us yet they are forced to remain in the shadows.  Silence and inaction are breeding grounds for injustice, and Earthjustice will not stand by while this reality continues.

Pope calls for new work of mercy: Care for environment

Pope Francis on Thursday proposed that caring for the environment be added to the traditional seven works of mercy that Christians are called to perform, taking his green agenda to a new level by supplementing Jesus’ Gospel call to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the sick.

Francis made the ambitious proposal in a message to mark the church’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, which he instituted last year in a bid to highlight his ecological concerns.

Officials said the call was the logical extension of Francis’ landmark and controversial ecological encyclical issued last year. In it, the world’s first Latin American pope called for a revolution to correct what he said was a “structurally perverse” economic system in which the rich exploited the poor and turned the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.”

This year, the Sept. 1 day of prayer for the planet falls during Francis’ Holy Year of Mercy, a yearlong focus on the church’s merciful side. During the event, the faithful have been urged to practice the seven corporal and seven spiritual works of mercy, which were first outlined in the Gospel and articulated over centuries by philosophers and theologians.

In addition to feeding the hungry, they include counseling the doubtful, instructing the ignorant and praying to God for the living and dead.

In the message, Francis said the faithful should use the holy year to ask forgiveness for the “sins” against the environment that have been committed by the “irresponsible, selfish” and profit-at-all-cost economic and political system.

“Economics and politics, society and culture cannot be dominated by thinking only of the short-term and immediate financial or electoral gains,” he wrote. “Instead, they urgently need to be redirected to the common good, which includes sustainability and care for creation.”

He called for all of humanity to take concrete steps to change course, starting with repaying what he called the “ecological debt” that wealthy countries owe the poor. Recycling, turning off the lights and car-pooling can all help, he said.

“Repaying (the debt) would require treating the environments of poorer nations with care and providing the financial resources and technical assistance needed to help them deal with climate change and promote sustainable development,” he wrote.

Finally, he proposed that caring for the environment be added as a “complement” to the seven spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

“This message is the next logical step after (the encyclical), for it is showing us how to internalize its teaching in our lives and in our world,” said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who helped draft the original encyclical and is Francis’ point-man on all environmental matters.


Right at Home: Green is a go for spring decor

When we start thinking “spring,” one color comes to mind. Tender pea shoots, that soft fuzziness on budding trees, a new lawn — there’s a palette of green that herald nature’s shift to the warm seasons.

And there are many fresh ways to bring green indoors with paint and furnishings.

“Green is Mother Nature’s favorite color. It’s so abundant in the world around us that we’re accustomed to seeing it as a background color,” says Lee Eiseman, head of the Eiseman Center for Color Information and Training near Seattle.

She also points out the “good-for-you” connotations of green — eating fruits and vegetables, juicing and so on — and the generally calming nature of the hue.

“We’re looking for that restful shade to bring the outside in, and provide balance in our lives,” she says.

Dee Schlotter, the spokesperson for PPG Brands, design and color marketers and makers of PPG Paints, says, “Green is restorative, rejuvenating and fresh. Being in nature brings an ease or a relaxation that’s almost immediate. Recreating that feeling in the home is very popular right now.”

The company has chosen Paradise Found as their 2016 color of the year. It’s a soothing gray-green with a hint of blue.

Greens like this play well with others. Combining gray-green with matte black modernizes a traditional space. Paired with white, the color becomes more mineral and organic.

Farrow & Ball has a new, leafy, verdant hue with historic provenance to help commemorate the paint maker’s 70th anniversary.

“Yeabridge Green was originally found in an 18th century Georgian farmhouse in the (United Kingdom) county of Somerset,” creative director Charlie Cosby recalls. During renovation, an original gun cupboard was removed, revealing the paint color.

Rich and earthy, it’s a green in the family of avocado, olive and evergreen.

Crate & Barrel’s Marin collection of artisan-made stoneware comes in a relaxed yet sophisticated lemongrass shade. There’s a soft wool rug named Baxter in the hue as well. (www.crateandbarrel.com )

If you’re trying green for the first time, Eiseman advises looking at the blue-greens. “They’re the most universally pleasant and least risky,” she says. “Particularly teals and deep turquoise.”

West Elm has a little midcentury-style desk and wooden counter stools in a gentle blue-green they’re calling “oregano.” (www.westelm.com )

CB2 has a sleek, low-profile dresser done in high-gloss mint lacquer. They also have a mint, powder-coated steel filing cabinet, and an array of minty trays, vases and napery. (www.cb2.com )

Saturated shades like chartreuse, citron and lime give a “pop” to walls and home accessories. At All Modern, find bold, zigzag-printed throws and slipper chairs from Amity Home, Deny Designs and Handy Living. (www.allmodern.com )

Kitchenaid’s mixers and tools come in a fresh apple green. (kitchenaid.com)

Looking for other colors with which to pair green?

“Reach across the color wheel and choose the complementary colors,” Eiseman says. “It’s the rose tones, wines and warm purples that are very effective with shades of green.”

Sara Moulton shares the secret to a vibrant green herb sauce

With St. Patrick’s Day looming, my first thought was that nothing would be more fitting than to salute the patron saint of the Emerald Isle with a fish dish dressed in a very green sauce, one that came by its color honestly, with no artificial food coloring allowed. A second later, it occurred to me that actually making such a dish might be easier said than done.

The problem is that bright green vegetables and herbs can quickly turn gray when cooked. They don’t like to be heated for very long and they hate acid. Meanwhile, fish — that most subtly flavored of proteins — cries out for acid.

It took bumping into several walls, but I eventually arrived at a sauce that filled the bill. This gem is packed with fresh green herbs — 4 cups (about two bunches) of parsley complemented by a quarter cup of fresh tarragon. For my first trial run, I finely chopped the herbs with a knife. The resulting sauce was mostly white with flecks of green. In pursuit of greater greenery, I confidently reached for a blender.

I threw in the whole herbs, unchopped, and pressed start. Nada. The herbs just sat on top of the blade. The third time around, I coarsely chopped the herbs before adding them to the blender. This brought them closer to the blade, but they still didn’t turn into the puree I wanted.

I’d been planning right along to add cream to the sauce at the end of the process. Now, as I climbed into the ring for the fourth round, I tried adding the cream (along with a little water) to the herbs in the blender at the beginning. Bingo! There it was, finally — a puree green as an Irish hillside.

Still, I had to be careful not to overcook it. The key is to cook the puree in a skillet with a wide bottom, which allows it to heat up in a matter of minutes. And as long as you wait until the last moment to add the fresh lemon juice, then serve the dish right away, the sauce will stay green, green, green rather than turning gray.

If you’d prefer to keep this recipe meat-free, omit the prosciutto. If you’re not a fan of tarragon, swap in basil or dill. However you customize it, this salmon will put one and all in a holiday mood.



Start to finish: 55 minutes (40 minutes active)

Servings: 4


Four 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Kosher salt and ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups packed fresh parsley leaves and thin stems, coarsely chopped

1/4 cup packed fresh tarragon leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup minced shallots

1 teaspoon lemon juice


Heat the oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment.

Wrap the middle section of each of the salmon fillets with a quarter of the prosciutto slices. Season the exposed part of each fillet with salt and pepper.

In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high, heat the oil. Add the salmon, reduce the heat to medium, and brown the salmon on all 4 sides, about 3 minutes total. Transfer the salmon to the prepared baking sheet, retaining the skillet. Bake on the oven’s middle shelf until slightly undercooked at the center, about 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a blender combine the parsley, tarragon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cream, cornstarch and 1/4 cup water. Blend until the mixture forms a smooth puree. Set aside.

Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the oil remaining in the skillet, then heat over medium. Add the shallots and cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add the puree and bring to a boil, stirring. Add the lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 1 minute. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little water.

Spoon some of the sauce into the center of 4 serving plates. Set one salmon fillet onto each. Serve immediately.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Sara Moulton is the host of public television’s Sara’s Weeknight Meals. She was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows, including Cooking Live. Her latest cookbook is Home Cooking 101.

‘Green’ autos among those on display at auto shows

I learned the fundamentals of driving at the 1973 Chicago Auto Show. I was 9 years old and seated behind the wheel of an American Motors Hornet. The two-door hatchback featured in the show was the Levi’s edition, with an interior nylon fabric that looked like blue jeans, gold stitching and copper rivets.

In the driver’s seat of that Super Seventies car, going “vroom, vroom, vroom” and turning the wheel like Richard Petty, I got hooked — on Hornets, blue jeans and auto shows.

Later this month, the automakers will buff up their latest models and cruise downtown for the Greater Milwaukee Auto Show. The event takes place Feb. 20–28 at the Wisconsin Center.

Show attendees won’t see a new AMC Hornet — the model ran its course at the end of the 1970s and the automaker went defunct in 1988.

But some lucky kids can climb behind the wheels of the current cool cars at the Kids Test Drive station and go “vroom, vroom.”

And some lucky adults can test the latest from Subaru, Chrysler, Jeep, Dodge, Ram, Fiat, Toyota, Mazda, Kia and Chevrolet and learn about the newest innovations, including smart cars and green autos.

The Milwaukee show follows major industry events in Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C., where capital car enthusiasts celebrated “public policy day” with the naming of the “green” autos of the year.

The eco-achievements, bestowed by Green Car Journal, went to:

• Volvo’s new XC90 T8 as the Luxury Green Car of the Year.

• Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid as the Green Connected Car of the Year.

• Honda HR-V as the Green SUV of the Year.

“These are standout vehicles in an increasingly sophisticated and appealing field of green cars,” said Green Car Journal publisher Ron Cogan. “To make the cut as a finalist is a real achievement in itself, considering the considerable competition in the market today.”

Volvo’s XC90 T8 is the industry’s first seven-passenger plug-in hybrid SUV. The vehicle uses a 2.0-liter, super-charged and turbo-charged Drive E engine with a rear-axle electric motor powered by lithium-ion batteries. Finalists in the luxury field include the BMW X5 xDrive40e, Lexus RX 450h, Mercedes-Benz C350e and Porsche Cayenne S E-Hybrid.

“Volvo is committed to a vehicle electrification strategy that will make powerful and efficient plug-in hybrid powertrains available in more models,” pledged Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Car USA. 

The Honda HR-V compact crossover is a sporty vehicle that gets up to 35 mpg on the highway with a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder engine. Finalists in the SUV category include BMW X1 xDrive28i, Hyundai Tucson, Mazda CX-3 and Toyota RAV4 Hybrid.

Chevrolet’s all-new Malibu Hybrid features an efficient hybrid powertrain — derived from the Chevy Volt — that delivers an estimated 47 combined mpg. The car is packed with technology — Apple CarPlay, Android Auto capabilities, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and lane keep assist, forward collision alert and a safety-focused feature for young drivers.

Finalists in the connected category include the Audi A3 e-tron, BMW 330e, Volvo XC90 T8 and the Prius by Toyota, which made the first vehicle I ever drove on the road. It was a gold Corolla and I was 12, but that’s another story.

At a glance

WHAT: The Greater Milwaukee Auto Show, with more than 30 manufacturers.

WHERE: The Wisconsin Center, 400 W. Wisconsin Ave.

WHEN: Feb. 20–28

HOW MUCH: $12 for 13 and older, $9 for seniors, $6 for kids.

FOR MORE: autoshowmilwaukee.com.


Green, civil rights groups want ExxonMobil investigated over climate change ‘lies’

The leaders of many of the nation’s largest environmental and civil rights organizations issued a joint letter calling on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate ExxonMobil.

The groups say the company knew about climate change as early as the 1970s, but decided to mislead the public to maximize profits from fossil fuels.

“Despite Exxon’s wealth and power, people were eager to sign on to this statement,” said Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org. “Anyone who’s lived through 25 years of phony climate debate or who’s seen the toll climate change is already taking on the most vulnerable communities, has been seething at these revelations. It reminds me of the spirit at the start of the Keystone battle.”

Groups ranging from the Audubon Society to the Foundation of Women in Hip Hop signed the letter, which followed reports by the Los Angeles Times and the Pulitzer-prize-winning InsideClimate News indicating the oil company knew about the dangers of climate change even as it funded efforts promoting climate-change denial.

The letter states, “Given the damage that has already occurred from climate change — particularly in the poorest communities of our nation and our planet — and that will certainly occur going forward, these revelations should be viewed with the utmost apprehension. They are reminiscent — though potentially much greater in scale — than similar revelations about the tobacco industry.”

Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders also called on the Justice Department to act.

Green self-driving cars take center stage at Tokyo auto show

Visions of cars that drive themselves without emitting a bit of pollution while entertaining passengers with online movies and social media are what’s taking center stage at the Tokyo Motor Show.

Japan, home to the world’s top-selling automaker, has a younger generation disinterested in owning or driving cars. The show is about wooing them back. It’s also about pushing an ambitious government-backed plan that paints Japan as a leader in automated driving technology.

Reporters got a preview look at the exhibition ahead of its opening to the public Oct. 30. 

Nissan Motor Co. showed a concept vehicle loaded with laser scanners, a 360-degree camera setup, a radar and computer chips so the car can “think” to deliver autonomous driving. The Japanese automaker called it IDS, which stands for “intelligent driving system.”

Nissan, based in Yokohama, Japan, said it will offer some autonomous driving features by the end of next year in Japan. By 2018, it said vehicles with the technology will be able to conduct lane changes on highways. By 2020, such vehicles will be able to make their way through intersections on regular urban roads.

Nissan officials said they were working hard to make the car smart enough to recognize the difference between a red traffic light and a tail light, learn how to turn on intersections where white lane indicators might be missing and anticipate from body language when a pedestrian might cross a street.

Nissan’s IDS vehicle is also electric, with a new battery that’s more powerful than the one currently in the automaker’s Leaf electric vehicle. Although production and sales plans were still undecided, it can travel a longer distance on a single charge and recharge more quickly.  

A major challenge for cars that drive themselves is winning social acceptance. They would have to share the roads with normal cars with drivers as well as with pedestrians, animals and unexpected objects.

That’s why some automakers at the show are packing the technology into what looks more like a golf cart or scooter than a car, such as Honda Motor Co.’s cubicle-like Wander Stand and Wander Walker scooter.

Instead of trying to venture on freeways and other public roads, these are designed for controlled environments, restricted to shuttling people to pre-determined destinations.

At a special section of the show, visitors can try out some of the so-called “smart mobility” devices such as Honda’s seat on a single-wheel as well as small electric vehicles.

Regardless of how zanily futuristic and even dangerous such machines might feel, especially the idea of sharing roads with driverless cars, that era is inevitable simply because artificial intelligence is far better at avoiding accidents than human drivers, said HIS analyst Egil Juliussen. It just might take some time, such as until the 2030s, he said.

Such technology will offer mobility to people who can’t drive or who don’t have cars, and it can also reduce pollution and global warming by delivering efficient driving, he said.

Other automakers, including General Motors, BMW, Mercedes, Toyota and Tesla are working on self-driving technology, as are companies outside the industry, such as Google and Uber.

Cars already can connect to the Internet. Automakers envision a future in which cars would work much like smartphones today, to have passengers checking email, watching movies or checking out social media and leaving the driving to the car.  

Honda Chairman Fumihiko Ike, who is also head of Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association which is organizing the show, said the Japanese government was putting tremendous pressure on Japan’s automakers to perfect self-driving features.

Japan is eager to showcase such technology in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, such as having driverless cars pick up athletes from airports and taking them to Olympic Village.  

But Ike acknowledged he had doubts. Unexpected things could happen on roads, like a package falling out of a van, and the human brain has better powers of the imagination than the best artificial intelligence, he said.

“We have to see,” Ike said on when self-driving cars might become common. “The final answer will be from the whole society.” 

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said the technology has clear benefits but also shared Ike’s reservations.

“It’s not that easy,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the show. “We are pursuing the technology, but we are also just being realistic.” 

Community Bulletins | March 26, 2015

Candidates announce for state Democratic Party chair

Martha Laning earlier this month announced her candidacy for chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Laning is a community leader, businesswoman and former candidate for Wisconsin’s 9th Senate District. She’s been endorsed by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, who’s often mentioned as a prospective gubernatorial candidate.

Also running for the position is Jason Rae, who has served on the boards of numerous progressive organizations and as chair of the Milwaukee County Human Rights Commission. Currently executive director of the Milwaukee LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Rae was chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Platform & Resolutions Committee for four years.

Other announced candidates are Jeff Smith and Joe Wineke.

More community bulletins …

• GREEN CAMPAIGN: Conservation Lobby Day is set for April 14, with citizen lobbyists gathering at Monona Terrace in Madison to register. For more, go to milwaukeeenvironmentalconsortium.org.

• BUILDING COMMUNITY: All Hands Boatworks, which held a meeting in Milwaukee earlier in March at Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful, is making plans for a youth regatta, a youth boatbuilders camp and other projects. For more, visit All Hands Boatworks on Facebook.

• JUSTICE AND DISPARITY: The International Socialist Organization, with co-sponsorship by Young, Gifted and Black, the UW Comparative Studies Department and the UW LGBT Campus Center, hosted transgender activist CeCe McDonald at the UW-Madison campus on March 19. McDonald talked about prison reform, racial profiling, racial disparities and transgender rights. 

• FAIR NOTICE: The Fair Wisconsin board of directors announced the appointment of Megin McDonnell as interim executive director. She succeeds Katie Belanger and has been serving Fair as external relations director since 2011. For more, go to fairwisconsin.com.

• HIGH-TECH DRIVER’S ED: The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has created an e-version of The Motorists’ Handbook that explains the rules of the road and offers safe driving recommendations for operating cars or light trucks. “The eBook option for tablets makes this version especially convenient to study and prepare for the knowledge test that all applicants must pass to get a driver license,” says Debbie Kraemer, supervisor of the Bureau of Driver Services. The handbook is available at wisconsindmv.gov.

• RUMMAGE WITH A CAUSE: The Milwaukee/NARI Foundation, Inc., the educational and charitable arm of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., will host its 10th annual “Home Improvement Rummage Sale” in the parking lot of Milwaukee Millwork, 11712 W. Dixon St., Milwaukee on May 1, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. The sale supports efforts to reduce materials from landfills while also assisting the foundation’s efforts to provide financial and educational support to students pursuing a career in the home improvement and remodeling industry. Leftover merchandise will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Send notices to Lisa Neff at .

In 83 speeches, U.S. senator warns of climate change

Like he did 82 times before, Sheldon Whitehouse stood on the U.S. Senate floor and preached the dangers of climate change.

In his last speech before Congress adjourned, the senator from Rhode Island warned that 2014 is on track to be the hottest year on record.

It was a familiar sight: Whitehouse has given a speech about climate change each of the last 83 weeks Congress has been in session.

He never has to give the same speech twice, he says — there are plenty of new angles to take on such a big problem.

The Democrat’s ever-changing, ever-present floor speeches — warnings over rising sea levels, warmer oceans, eroding coastlines and more — make him the Senate’s loudest, most persistent voice on the dangers of climate change.

Whitehouse is still haunted by what he saw after Superstorm Sandy: oceanfront houses in Rhode Island teetering into the sea. He fears future storms will be more catastrophic as sea level rises.  

“We’re not a very big state so we don’t have a lot of land to give away to the sea,” he said. He noted that Rhode Island finds itself “on the receiving end” of the climate change problem because it doesn’t have coal mines or oil drilling.

Whitehouse, now in his second term, is a former federal prosecutor and Rhode Island attorney general. His wife, Sandra Thornton Whitehouse, is a marine scientist who helped him see the importance of the oceans in everyone’s lives, he said.

“On a personal level, I have a deep fear of being ashamed,” he said. “I don’t want, 20 years from now, when this is way past our current discussion, to be ashamed that I didn’t do my best when we still had a chance to fix this problem.”

Whitehouse co-chairs the Senate Oceans Caucus and a congressional climate change task force. The caucus is working to get bipartisan legislation passed on fishing issues, ocean data monitoring and marine debris.

As the Senate switches to a Republican majority, however, Whitehouse faces significant hurdles in getting meaningful climate change legislation passed.

The oil and gas industry spent $53 million on the 2014 elections and nearly $75 million in 2012, with close to 90 percent of the contributions going to Republicans, according to the political money-tracking website OpenSecrets.org.

Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said his top priority will be to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency, which is trying to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. He has said their “overreaching efforts” are strangling the economy. New environmental regulations have hampered U.S. job growth and caused a depression in eastern Kentucky coalfields, according to McConnell.

But Whitehouse is hopeful. In his speeches, he has candidly described how climate change will affect individual states — particularly ones with Republican leaders who he thinks might support new environmental policies.

And Whitehouse thinks Republicans will have to take more responsibility for solving problems when they’re in charge, and it will become a “colossal liability” for them to continue denying climate change as the 2016 elections near, he said.

Whitehouse thinks there’s a chance his latest proposal, to impose a carbon fee on industries that emit carbon pollution into the atmosphere, can gain some traction.

Prominent Republicans outside of government have endorsed a revenue-neutral fee on carbon, including Ronald Reagan’s secretary of state George Shultz, Reagan’s economic adviser Arthur Laffer and former Republican U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis. To make it palatable to conservatives, Laffer and Inglis say the fee should be offset by a cut to the income tax.

“What conservative wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to reduce the tax on income and put a tax on anything else?” said Inglis, a former South Carolina congressman.

Shultz, now a distinguished fellow at Stanford University, said the party is more concerned about climate change than it appears. Today’s highly partisan atmosphere, he said, “causes people to get on opposite sides of everything.”

“They’re sensible people and given the chance, they’ll do sensible things,” Shultz said. “I’m sure of it.”

Whitehouse has formed an unlikely energy alliance with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat from West Virginia. Manchin visited Rhode Island in October to see the effect of climate change firsthand and Whitehouse toured coal and energy resources in West Virginia. They plan to work on crafting legislation to invest in technology for cleaner fossil fuel energy.

In the new Congress, Whitehouse said, he’ll keep making speeches about climate change until there is “serious action” to address it.

Another environmental advocate, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, said Whitehouse’s climate change speeches present a “compelling, absolutely riveting case for action.”

“I consider myself vocal, but nobody is more vocal than Sheldon Whitehouse,” the Connecticut Democrat said. “He’s in a league of his own.”

Flashback 2014: What’s up with state’s air, land and water?

If you breathe air or drink water, listen up. The Legislature has the ability to impact your air, land and water — and all indications are that the session beginning Jan. 5 will not be a positive one for our natural resources. A review of the last session combined with the recent election results shed a little light on what we’re up against. 

Election results

We are disappointed by many of the outcomes of the recent election, especially at the top of the ticket, where we ran our biggest electoral campaign to date to help elect Mary Burke.  

However, we’re happy to let you know 74 percent of the candidates endorsed by Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters won. And of the winners, we are especially excited about a bipartisan set of legislators entering the state Assembly who will bring new commitment to our work to raise natural resource issues above the political fray. 

Last Session

All in all, the incoming Legislature looks very much like the last. Still, during the last session we defeated 75 percent of the anti-conservation attacks, including attacks on groundwater supply and local control. We even successfully passed 50 percent of the pro-conservation bills proposed.

In every case, the key to success was the engagement of Wisconsin citizens statewide. By the thousands, they were willing to call their legislators, send an email, or even head to Madison for a hearing when their conservation values were at stake. Citizens acted quickly, decisively and with great dedication.

We’re going to need that kind of engagement again. There is absolutely no doubt that we have challenges ahead, but we’re encouraged by the fact that — together — we’ve brought home natural resource victories in this political environment before.

Like last session, we expect two issues to remain front and center: groundwater supply and frac sand mining.

Groundwater Supply

With all of the lakes, rivers, and streams in Wisconsin, it may be hard to believe that the aquifers below us are drying up. But it’s true. Years of unfettered water use are driving parts of the state to a crisis point. Something needs to be done. 

This session, we’ll advocate for legislation that will proactively protect groundwater supplies for future generations at the same time we are guarding against attacks on our groundwater, like we saw (but defeated) last session.

Frac Sand Mining

The hills of western Wisconsin contain the sand necessary to do hydraulic fracking for natural gas, which means our rural communities have become the Grand Central Station of open-pit frac sand mining. There is very little oversight of this new industry, allowing it to wreak havoc on our air and water, which wreaks havoc on public health.  

With a gubernatorial administration that has not made enforcement of our air and water laws a priority, bad actors are often getting off scot-free. We will continue to call on the state to prioritize the monitoring of frac sand mines so we know when an environmental crime is committed and can enforce the law when violations are noted. And, of course, we will continue to advocate for better protections to keep frac sand mines from polluting in the first place. 

Looking Ahead

With other potential threats coming in the form of more mining, unsafe drinking water, and renewable energy stagnation, we are recommitted and reenergized to do the immense amount of work that needs to be done. In fact, we’re already back at it — doing what we know works. We’re out there listening, organizing, and building networks. We’re finding opportunities. And in some cases, we’re creating new ones.

We know Wisconsin voters care deeply about natural resources (and the polling proves it), which is why we are in this for the long haul. Thank you for staying informed and standing with us!

To learn more about Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters and the very latest on conservation issues, please visit

Anne Sayers is program director of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to electing conservation leaders, holding decision-makers accountable, and encouraging lawmakers to champion conservation policies that effectively protect Wisconsin’s natural resources and public health.