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Earth Day is Forever Tied to Wisconsin

PHOTO: Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin says Earth Day founder and Wisconsinite Gaylord Nelson's ideals are still alive, but there's a lot of work to do. (Photo courtesy of Clean Wisconsin)
PHOTO: Keith Reopelle of Clean Wisconsin says Earth Day founder and Wisconsinite Gaylord Nelson's ideals are still alive, but there's a lot of work to do. (Photo courtesy of Clean Wisconsin)
April 22, 2014

MADISON, Wis. - Gaylord Nelson, a former Wisconsin governor and U.S. senator, founded Earth Day 44 years ago. According to Keith Reopelle, senior policy director of the state's largest environmental group, Clean Wisconsin, Nelson's ideals are still alive in Wisconsin.

"We've done a great job of that as a state," Reopelle said. "We've had the most comprehensive recycling program in the nation; we're the first ones to regulate acid rain emissions and the second state in the nation to regulate mercury emissions. We've done a good job of that, but there's a lot more to do."

Clean Wisconsin has suggested several small things people can do to pitch in for a healthier environment: recycling, going digital with magazine and newspaper subscriptions, investing in a sturdy reusable water bottle to keep plastic bottles out of landfills, buying used goods when possible, and taking time every day to power down electronic devices. However, Reopelle said, it's important to get involved in big things, too.

"Get involved in discussions and debates about regulations of carbon emissions," he urged. We're going to have a really big opportunity coming up to do that in just a couple of months here, when EPA puts out a draft regulation to regulate carbon emissions from power plants."

The biggest environmental challenge ahead is dealing with global climate change, Reopelle added. He pointed out that
Gaylord Nelson showed that one person can make a difference.

"You may think of it as 'I'm just one person; climate change and these other issues are big global issues,'" he said. "They are, but you can't think that you don't make a difference, because you really do. In fact, the only way we'll leave this planet for our children in as good a shape as we received it is if we each take action."

A list of ways to make a difference is available at www.cleanwisconsin.org.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI