SETH HOFFMEISTER & MAGGIE McCONNAHA ’18
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) just released the 2015 National Environmental Scorecard, which evaluates the most anti-environmental Congress in our history. This is in direct contrast to President Obama, who led the way on combating climate change and conserving our environment.
Too many members of Congress were complicit in extreme attacks on both bedrock environmental laws and more recent progress to protect our air, water, public lands and wildlife. Despite last year being the hottest year on record, Senator Ron Johnson put polluter allies ahead of protecting our environment and combating climate change. Fortunately, environmental allies like Senator Tammy Baldwin stood up to these radical attacks and put Wisconsin values first.
In Wisconsin, three House members and Senator Baldwin earned a score of over 80 percent while five House members and Senator Johnson earned an abysmal score of less than 10 percent. Senator Johnson received a score of zero percent. We need all of our delegation to advocate for our environment and Wisconsinites.
Our state is lucky to have a few leaders in Washington fighting to protect our air, land, and, water. Our junior Senator, Tammy Baldwin, received a perfect 100 percent on this year’s environmental scorecard. In her own words, she insists, “Global climate change is real. It is a fact. The question is not whether climate change is occurring, but how our nation is going to take it on.” This echoes the feelings of other famous Wisconsin conservationists: Aldo Leopold, John Muir, and Senator Gaylord Nelson.
Unfortunately, her counterpart across the aisle in the Senate, Ron Johnson, could not be more different. Senator Johnson has a lifetime four percent score on the National Environmental Scorecard—a score that fell even further this year. Ron Johnson did not vote even once for his conservationist constituents. He does not even acknowledge climate change that NASA, the United States Army, and 97% of climate scientists agree is a real threat to the earth, public health and the economy. Instead, Senator Johnson looks to his corporate polluting friends, who convince him to sponsor the motions that aimed to block the Clean Power Plan.
When Senator Johnson failed his test on climate change, he let down Wisconsinites, Americans and the entire world. Our message today for Ron Johnson is this: the time is now for climate reform—if we don’t act soon, we will let our planet down. That’s why we can’t afford to have decision makers like Johnson standing in the way of progress on this issue.
Think of the benefits to improving his score. By voting in favor of conservationist principles, one stands in solidarity with a majority of the country who believe it is important to preserve the environment, invest in clean energy, and to slow climate change. The agricultural economy we are so proud of in Wisconsin could expect fewer extreme weather changes and look forward to the more predictable seasons we used to know. Children could spend their summers outside without fear of damaging their lungs or having an asthma attack. The Wisconsin and national workforce could be boosted by the tens of thousands of new clean energy jobs.
This should not be a partisan issue; this is a common sense issue. It is time for senators like Ron Johnson to recognize the wants and beliefs of their constituents and represent them accurately in their votes. Wisconsin wants and needs a senator who believes that taking an active and supportive stance on climate change is essential. Our tests have shown time and again that Ron Johnson is not that senator.
Aldo Leopold said, “We abuse land because we see it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” Wisconsin wants to use the land with love and respect. So many of us hunt, fish, hike and explore like the naturalists who have come before us. We need a senator who represents those desires; but Ron Johnson is not one. Through his votes against climate change progress and his outright denial of its human implications, he abuses the land. If he continues down this path, not only will he lose his place in the Senate, but he’ll cost our children their future.