Resolution expressing support for climate change action gets thumbs up from County Board
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Editor
MERRILL – The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors during its Tuesday, Jan. 19 meeting at the Lincoln County Service Center in Merrill voted to approve a resolution expressing support for action on climate change.
The resolution, introduced by the county’s Land Services Committee, will not lead to any action, other than copies being sent to each county in Wisconsin, as well as to state and federal elected officials from the Badger State.
Zoning Program Manager and Land Service Administrator Mike Huth told the board that the concept of the resolution originated from the public before the COVID-19 pandemic and came to fruition with help from District 11 Supervisor Hans Breitenmoser, a member of the Land Services Committee.
Breitenmoser described the resolution as “almost rhetorical, because it has no teeth” and explained that it “merely says that we, as a county government, and we, as a county, which is to say the community, the people who live here, see issues coming down the pike that are going to cost the county coffers money, that are going to be issues that we have to deal with.”
“One of the things that this resolution is trying to get across and impress upon is that Lincoln County is very much like Wisconsin in that we produce no fossil fuels, so every dollar that we spend on energy … as long as it’s spent on fossil fuels, is money that leaves the county,” he stated. “I think that this resolution tries to point out that time marches on. … We need to keep continuing to step into the future.”
Breitenmoser noted Lincoln County and Wisconsin could potentially be leaders in green energy.
Members of the public offered their support for the resolution.
“You, as the Lincoln County Board, are in a unique position to lead us into a future in which we and our children and grandchildren will either struggle to survive or a future in which we can all thrive,” one citizen stated. “Help us enlarge our aspirations by resolving, with this public declaration, that Lincoln County will actively join hands with all citizens and other communities throughout Wisconsin who have already made similar public commitments to meet this most consequential challenge set before us.”
“We need federal action,” another said. “It’s not something that Marathon County or Lincoln County can do on its own. In passing this resolution tonight, you will be instructing and lobbying our federal legislators to take action on climate change.”
Numerous Supervisors voiced their opinions on the resolution and climate change.
District 21 Supervisor Eugene Simon spoke in opposition to the resolution, calling climate change a “political issue” and pointing to the potential negative economic impacts climate change legislation could have on area industries, including pulp production and trucking.
District 10 Supervisor Jeremy Ratliff said that although he liked the idea of the resolution, there wasn’t enough information provided for him to support it.
“Without more documentation or more proof, I can’t stand behind it,” he stated.
District 18 Supervisor Patricia Voermans noted that the resolution had community support.
“As leaders, I think we should be paying attention to what our community people want,” she said.
A motion to table the conversation failed. A motion to amend the resolution to re-add a line of text that was omitted by error passed with a 20 to 2 vote, and after further discussion, the resolution passed with a 13 to 8 vote.