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April 26, 2015

Scott Walker fields Earth Day question on climate change views (AUDIO)

Gov. Scott Walker (Photo: WRN)

Gov. Scott Walker (Photo: WRN)

He famously punted when asked for his views on evolution during a visit to the UK in February. And on Earth Day, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker stopped well short of answering whether or not he believes in man-made climate change.

“I believe that the government needs to make sure that we balance between a sustainable economy and a sustainable environment, and that’s the focus I’ve put on is trying to find way to balance both those,” Walker said in response to a reporter’s question during a stop in Appleton on Wednesday.

AUDIO: Governor Scott Walker (:3o)

“I’m going to talk about things that we can do that both sustain the environment here, that allow us to have a healthy and vibrant environment at the same time we’re able to sustain economy, and I think there’s got to be a positive balance, and I think that’s where the debate in this state and this country should be. How do you do both?”

Walker, who was in Appleton to attend a groundbreaking ceremony for a local business, has had limited interaction with reporters in Wisconsin of late.

Walker has had a busy travel schedule as he contemplates making an official announcement that he’s running for president. The Republican Governor, recently back from leading a state trade mission to Germany, met privately with Republican state legislators in Des Moines on Tuesday. Early Iowa caucus polls show Walker leading the large field of potential Republican candidates.

Protesters address climate change denial at Capitol

Vera Pfeiffer, student at Nelson Institute. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Vera Pfeiffer, student at Nelson Institute, climate change awareness advocate. (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Coinciding with Earth Day, a handful of individuals make a delivery to the governor’s office in Madison.

Climate activists want Governor Scott Walker to condemn the implementation of a Public Lands Commission policy that would prohibit staff from using taxpayer time to work on global warming issues. That ban “just limits the dialog,” says Vera Pfeiffer, a PhD student at the Nelson Institute. “It prevents public employees from doing their job and acting in the public interest.”

Pfeiffer says ignoring climate change does nothing to remove its threat.

Donned with duct tape over their mouths, participants delivered more than 100,000 petition signatures to the governor’s office. “So this silent walk and with these petitions and the duct tape across people’s mouths represents the fact that this is a gag measure, this is censorship.”

Republican State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk had said the board’s executive secretary, Tia Nelson, can talk about global warming and climate change on her own time.

Tia Nelson is the daughter of Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson. Adamczyk, Attorney General Brad Schimel, and Secretary of State Doug La Follette make up the Board of Commissioners. Schimel backed Adamczyk in imposing the rule, while La Follette opposed the move.

Jefferson County flock hit with avian flu

Yet another outbreak of avian influenza is confirmed in Wisconsin.

H5 avian influenza has been detected in an 800,000 bird egg-laying chicken flock in Jefferson County, according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP). This makes five cases of this type of avian flu in Wisconsin.  We just learned this morning the H5 avian influenza has been detected in an 87,000 bird turkey flock in Chippewa County.

While lethal to domestic poultry, the strain of virus detected is not known to have caused disease in humans and is not expected to pose a risk to public health or the food supply. Even so, the poultry will not enter the human food supply.

The properties in Jefferson and Chippewa Counties were immediately quarantined and the birds will be destroyed. Neighboring properties with poultry will be notified about the situation.

The H5 avian influenza virus was first detected in Wisconsin at a commercial chicken flock in Jefferson County on Monday, April 13, which led to the depopulation of more than 180,000 egg-laying chickens. Since then three additional flocks were detected in Barron, Juneau and Chippewa counties bringing the total of birds destroyed to nearly 400,000 in Wisconsin. Multiple outbreaks of avian influenza have occurred most recently in Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Arkansas, the Dakotas and Kansas. More than 1 million turkeys and chickens have been killed since January.

Wisconsin state veterinarian Dr. Paul McGraw already issued a ban on poultry movement to shows, exhibitions and swap meets in Jefferson, Juneau and Barron counties. Chippewa county was added to the ban this morning.

Officials at DATCP remind everyone that the avian influenza virus strain currently detected in Wisconsin and the other states presents low risk to public health. Poultry meat and egg products in the marketplace remain safe to eat. Though, both wild and domestic poultry should be properly cooked.

JFC co-chair says Milwaukee needs to ‘cough up’ for Bucks arena

Milwaukee Bucks logo 10Key legislators said Wednesday that local leaders in Milwaukee need to step up to the plate on a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. Joint Finance Committee co-chairs, Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) commented as team officials were set to meet at the Capitol today with legislative leaders and Mayor Tom Barrett and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Bucks president Peter Feigin said this week that he is confident that the NBA team and local elected officials will be able to reach an agreement on up to $250 million in public funding for a new downtown arena.

“This is going to be an important week for discussions, to see if the city and the county are going to cough up, and put some skin in the game,” Darling said. “We need the city especially to show its leadership, and the county to team up. This has been way too long. The lack of leadership on this issue is very concerning, but it isn’t s surprising.”

“The governor’s proposal came out before the budget did,” noted Nygren. “Here we are three quarters through the month of April and we still don’t have any idea where the city and county are at.”

Wisconsin DNR tells 57 employees their jobs are at risk

The state Department of Natural Resources has sent out letters to 57 employees who could lose their jobs if proposed cuts remain in the state budget.

DNR spokesman Bill Cosh said the letters are an initial step and that the agency is only at the beginning of the layoff process. As a result, he said it is too early to know how many staff may actually be impacted.

Cosh noted that being placed “at risk” does make a number of benefits and job training opportunities available to those who were sent notices.

Any cuts to DNR staff are not expected to be finalized until after work on the state budget wraps up later this summer.