MADISON, Wis. — With the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination in his sights, Gov. Scott Walker failed to come to the defense of science and denounce a gag order prohibiting state employees at the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands from mentioning the words “climate change” during their workday.
One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross noted, “It’s a sad state of affairs when the leader in the polls for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination makes the calculation that defending mainstream science and free speech in the workplace is too risky of a proposition for his political ambitions.”
Recently two of the three members of the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk and Attorney General Brad Schimel, voted to impose a “gag order” on the state agency’s employees that prohibits them discussing climate change during the work day.
Adamczyk is a noted Tea Party extremist who would like to eliminate the office to which he has been elected. Upon taking office he fired the entire staff and moved his office to an office not readily accessible to the public in the basement of the State Capitol where he works an indeterminate number of hours per week for his state paid salary and benefits.
While being willing to gag state employees on climate change, Attorney General Schimel has given voice to corporate interests, concerned measures to slow climate change could hurt their bottom line. Among his first acts in office was hiring a contract lobbyist who represented special interests opposed to climate change regulations as his top deputy. Shortly thereafter he joined a politically motivated lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency reportedly being orchestrated by Republican U.S. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell and Washington, D.C. lobbyists.
For his part Gov. Walker, an all but announced candidate for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination, has refused to denounce the actions of the gag order supporting the Treasurer and Attorney General. But more damaging than his implicit endorsement of the gag order is his long track record of antipathy to renewable energy and other protections for clean air and water — including gutting funding for state alternative and energy conservation efforts, discouraging investment in wind industry, rejecting a federally funded high speed rail project, changing state law to try build a four mile wide pit mine near the shores of Lake Superior and opening up environmentally sensitive wetlands to development.
In the first hundred days of his current term, Walker appointed a crony to the state utility regulatory board who stated publicly that a volcanic eruption could have a greater impact on climate change than all the automobiles in the world. He has also lent his support and encouragement to Wisconsin joining litigation on behalf of corporate special interests to block federal regulations to limit climate change driving greenhouse gas emissions.
“Gov. Walker has amassed a truly appalling record of putting politics before all else. Free speech, science and protecting our clean air and water are just some of the latest issues to be sacrificed for his unquenchable thirst for power,” concluded Ross.