Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week:
In the face of a contracting economy, high gas prices, the worst inflation in 40 years, raging violent crime, and a collapse of government education, Gov. Tony Evers has ordered the Department of Administration to create an Office of Environmental Justice. Wisconsin clearly has a governor with his finger on the pulse of what is important to the people of Wisconsin.
This was not Governor Evers’ first attempt at creating an OEJ. He put the creation of the office into his draft of the most recent state budget. The Legislature, seeing no reason to enlarge government with another expensive office full of environmental activists who would erode the state’s economy as they empty the taxpayers’ pockets, declined to put the OEJ into the final version of the budget that Evers signed into law. Not to be denied, Evers has now created the OEJ by executive order under the mistaken belief that the state Constitution grants the governor to do whatever he wants via executive order when he does not get his way in the Legislature. The key to understanding the OEJ, and how bad it will be for Wisconsin, is to understand that it is not about the environment. The mission of the OEJ is not to make sure that Wisconsin protects the environment. The OEJ is not a regulatory agency to ensure that the state has reasonably clean air and water. OEJ officials will not be helping to clean up industrial accidents. The key word in the Office of Environmental Justice is not “environmental.” The key word is “justice,” as Tony Evers and the woke left defines it. I invite the reader to take a moment and go read the executive order creating the OEJ. It is easy to find. It is Executive Order #161 and it is only three pages. As with all government proclamations, there are a series of “whereas” clauses that build the justification for the order being issued. Eight of the ten “whereas” clauses in Evers’ order are about racial or social equity.
Only one “whereas,” the sixth one, claims that there is an environmental issue that justifies the creation of a new government office. Meanwhile, the order is replete with phrases like, “promoting environmental equity,” “environmental justice movement,” “communities of color in urban ghettos,” and “right to equitable treatment.”
The goal of the OEJ is not to make sure that Wisconsin has a cleaner environment. The goal is to ensure that Wisconsin’s environmental regulations meet the racial and social “equity” standard of the woke left. In the nine directives for the OEJ detailed in the executive order, there is no mention of environmental goals. Instead, the new office is directed to do things like review the impact of state laws, regulations, and policy on equitable treatment, develop recommendations using the Wisconsin environmental equity tools, and “develop a framework and strategy for environmental justice work across the administration.”
The message from the Evers administration is clear. In Wisconsin, there will be one more state agency to harass and bully businesses and homeowners for any environmental transgressions, real or perceived. Except now, running afoul of the environmental regulatory apparatus could also be deemed racist, transphobic, or whatever violation of “equity” can be applied from the Office of Environmental Justice. Governor Evers continues to run roughshod over the legislative process to push the woke agenda through state government. Meanwhile he continues to nap while Wisconsinites are facing real economic and social hardships. One term in office is one too many for this governor.