U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, a Democrat from Wisconsin, observed Earth Day with a message celebration the founder of the annual environmental holiday – Gaylord Nelson, who also was a Democratic senator from Wisconsin.
Baldwin, who is openly lesbian, said: "Today we celebrate the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day and its founder, Gaylord Nelson, a leader who exemplified the best of Wisconsin’s proud, progressive tradition. Gaylord was committed to making environmental protection and conservation a top priority for our country. His leadership showed the power of citizens to organize for change at the grassroots level.
"Today, Wisconsin shares this commitment as we face many challenges. Climate change is real. Its impact can be seen on agriculture, biodiversity, rising sea levels, and extreme weather. The question is not whether climate change is occurring, but how our nation is going to respond to it.
"To truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we must work to make clean, renewable energy affordable and our primary source of power. It’s now time we move forward on a 21st century clean energy policy that works for America.
"For this reason, I will continue to support efforts to expand and enhance the development of energy from solar, wind, and biofuels by investing in innovation, science and research to grow a new, clean energy economy. If we seize this opportunity to act, we can help create an economy built to last in Wisconsin and lower energy costs for families and businesses. Through these efforts, we can also do our part to build a stronger future for the next generation and continue to honor the legacy of Gaylord Nelson.”
U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, an openly gay Democrat from Wisconsin, also issued an Earth Day message: "This Earth Day, let us follow in the footsteps of U.S. senator and Wisconsinite Gaylord Nelson and recommit ourselves to the cause of our environment – to conserve our energy, protect our resources and watch over the planet we were given.
"Earth Day serves as a yearly reminder to strengthen our environmental protection efforts so we can preserve state treasures such as Devil’s Lake in Sauk County and the Ice Age Trail in Dane County for future generations.
"We must refocus our efforts on exploring renewable sources of energy, curbing the effect of greenhouse gases and reducing our dependence on foreign oil. We also need to work on creating clean jobs, which generate the long-term, sustainable employment opportunities of the future. Above all, Earth Day reminds us that we have a shared responsibility and a moral imperative to leave this world cleaner than how we found it."
Mike Tate, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, also issued an Earth Day statement: "The great Democrat Gaylord Nelson founded Earth Day because of, not in spite of, the corporate forces funding Wisconsin's radical Republican regime that are now undoing decades of bipartisan commitment to clean air and water.
"Gov. Nelson understood that when he said that, "The wealth of the nation is its air, water, soil, forests, minerals, rivers, lakes, oceans, scenic beauty, wildlife habitats and biodiversity.
"And yet now, with reckless glee, Scott Walker Republicans are rolling back the modest regulations that have helped preserve what Creation gave us in the nation's most beautiful state.
"Preserving our conservation heritage used to never be a Republican issue, or a Democratic one. On Earth Day 2013, we hope that the radical Republicans now in charge look toward what is right for the environment and the generations to come, instead of what helps them reap their harvest of corporate campaign cash."
The Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is named for Nelson.
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