Last month, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers created the Office of Environmental Justice through Executive Order. A component of the Governor’s Clean Energy Plan which charts a pathway to 100% renewable energy by 2050, this new division of the Department of Administration is charged with centering health equity, environmental justice and equitable economic development along the state’s path to a clean energy future.
The move by Evers reflects realities central to the state’s move towards energy independence.
- Historically underserved communities have been disproportionately impacted by the fossil fuel industry and the structures that empowered it for generations.
- Clean energy development is about to explode in Wisconsin, creating a rare occasion to fundamentally reshape the promise of opportunity in the very communities that have been left behind by a system about to be left behind itself.
Maximizing the impact of the coming clean energy transformation will not happen by accident.
Which is exactly why ensuring collaboration between the private- and public-sectors, and within them, is so crucial. Rural communities, urban population centers, and Tribal Nations, to name just a few, have disparate challenges and needs when it comes to ensuring equality of opportunity. The entirety of Evers plan makes clear he’s heard from stakeholders across the political spectrum and around the state on these issues, each of whom will be better able to bring their own unique strengths and assets to the table as a result of a single coordinating body.
It’s one thing to talk a big game, it’s another thing entirely to create accountability for making sure rhetoric is matched by results. Creating an office devoted to fostering collaboration on these issues ensures that accountability.
When it comes to environmental justice and equity, that accountability is long overdue.
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