Growing up in the 1970s and 80s, I watched news stories about our Great Lakes being so polluted that they started on fire, and about Love Canal, a New York neighborhood polluted by toxic dumping that caused cancer and other negative health impacts in local children and residents. My horror about these stories and the harm being done to our environment and our people made me want to become an environmental engineer. I majored in environmental engineering at the University of Wisconsin at Platteville, and hoped to use my skills to mitigate existing pollution and prevent further damage to the environment.
We all know that government policy can have a huge positive impact on the environment. For example, the 1972 Clean Water Act made major improvements to local water quality, in part by requiring the separation of sanitary sewers and storm sewers. This policy had a big impression on my life. My grandparents farmed on land adjacent to Lake Pepin, and as a child, I remember not swimming in the lake in the summertime because pollutants from an overflowing sanitary sewage treatment plant upstream made swimming unsafe. The Clean Water Act changed the quality of water in lakes across the country, including Lake Pepin, and my family now swims in that lake with no concern for water quality.
As your Senator, I will fight to use the government’s power to address the threat of climate change and to improve the health of the environment, just like the Clean Water Act addressed the threat of unclean water. Climate change is real, and not something you can choose to believe in. We should help homeowners who want to move towards clean energy. It is in our state’s interest to move away from fossil fuels and towards reliable and proven renewable energy sources.
Specifically, I believe in providing incentives for homeowners to install solar panels on their homes; my husband and I recently installed a 36-panel solar array on our home which will pay for itself in just nine years. Incentives and financing options should be made available to all whose homes present conditional favorable to installing solar panels, and who are interested in doing so.