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Walker Battles Climate Change Believers to Reshape Department of Natural Resources

Wisconsin Democrats have demanded Gov. Scott Walker (R) join the U.S. Climate Alliance, a newly formed coalition of states that intends to move forward with the terms of the Paris climate accord after President Trump’s decision to pull out of the agreement.

"President Trump’s rejection of fact, science and of the Paris Climate Agreement is an act that endangers every American. Gov. Walker’s silence on this issue echoes this shared anti-environment, anti-middle class agenda,” read the letter to Walker signed by 35 state representatives and 11 senators.

"Given the recent reports on Wisconsin’s dismal slump in job creation, we cannot afford to reject both the economic opportunity that green jobs would bring to Wisconsin and the moral obligation of taking a stand to address climate change,” the Democrats concluded.

Will Walker bend and join the Climate Alliance? Not likely, since the Republican has proposed transferring 15 scientists, who had been studying climate change and global warming, to new jobs within the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Two years ago, 18 DNR science bureau researchers lost their jobs as the result of a Walker administration budget cut.

Democrats said it’s no coincidence that all of those DNR employees were working on climate change research and the impact climate change could have on Wisconsin.

“This is just part of the continued effort to discourage the use of science or evidence in this administration’s decision-making,” Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D) told the Wisconsin State Journal. “Gov. Walker and Legislative Republicans don’t want science to get in the way of their politics.”

Sen. Tom Tiffany (R), who said the idea that climate change caused by human activity was “theoretical,” told the Wisconsin State Journal it is true the Walker administration is trying to alter the structure of the DNR.

“I think it’s a more disciplined approach where the leadership of the Department of Natural Resources really directs that research,” said Sen. Tiffany, who does not believe that the climate is changing as rapidly as many scientists claim.

This is not a new political fight in Wisconsin. The DNR’s website was scrubbed of its climate change section late last year. Instead of saying the Earth’s climate was changing and humans were the cause, the Wisconsin DNR site now notes the Earth is going through a change with the causes of said change still being debated.

“As it has done throughout the centuries, the earth is going through a change. The reasons for this change at this particular time in the earth's long history are being debated and researched by academic entities outside the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources,” the DNR website read.

“The effects of such a change are also being debated but whatever the causes and effects, the DNR's responsibility is to manage our state's natural resources through whatever event presents itself; flood, drought, tornadoes, ice/snow or severe heat. The DNR staff stands ready to adapt our management strategies in an effort to protect our lakes, waterways, plants, wildlife and people who depend on them,” the Wisconsin DNR website concluded.