With Earth Week Ending, Walker Defends Environmental Record

Walker Under Fire For Actions On Phosphorous Runoff Reduction, Bat Habitat Protection

Gov. Scott Walker says his governing philosophy is to strike a balance between job creation and environmental concerns. Photo: Gage Skidmore (CC-BY-SA)

Gov. Scott Walker is defending some controversial environmental actions of his administration as Earth Week nears a close.

Walker a bill this week signed that gives communities more time to reduce the release of phosphorus even though the chemical is a major contributor to algae growth in surface waters. The Republican governor notes he shot down a compromise reached about five years ago by former Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat.

“They were probably overly aggressive in term of how realistic it was, particularly local governments,” said Walker. “Some of the biggest proponents of making the changes and reforms in the phosphorus bill were local governments.”

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It’s also been reported that the Department of Natural Resources is supporting the Wisconsin timber industry in a dispute over federal plans to protect a species of bat. Walker says it’s a significant issue.

“We just want to make sure we’re working with that, and that it’s not done in a way that completely ignores the concerns that the foresty and other industries have,” said Walker. “I think there’s way of creating a balance between the two.

Walker says his governing philosophy is to try to increase jobs while still protecting the environment.

This week, the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters endorsed Democrat Mary Burke in the governor’s race. The league’s Anne Sayers said Burke has a clear commitment to the environment: “Including opposing a mine that could pollute our water (and) supporting local control so that local communities have the ability to protect their very own backyards – and particularly here we’re talking about frac sand mining.”

State Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, who recently announced his candidacy for governor, also challenged Walker this week when he described the governor’s record as “assaults on families and the environment.”