/ Letters / Tricia Zunker, best choice for protecting our environment

Tricia Zunker, best choice for protecting our environment

April 28, 2020

To the Editor:

On May 12 a special election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District, offers a choice between Democrat Tricia Zunker, and Republican Tom Tiffany. The vote gives Northwoods residents an opportunity to help protect the nation’s air, water and forests from exploitation and over-development.

Don’t forget that as a Wisconsin senator, Tiffany was labeled “Toxic Tom,” a name he truly lived up to.

• As a member of the powerful Joint Finance Committee, Tiffany slipped a provision into the state budget that eliminated the Science Bureau in the Wisconsin DNR and scrubbed all climate change information from the state website.  

• Tiffany also inserted an amendment into the budget, that removed the right of counties and towns to pass stricter shoreline regulations than the states minimum standards. As a result Vilas, Oneida and other counties lost their lake classification system that allowed the lakes most sensitive to pollution, to require minimums of 200 to 300 or more feet of frontage. Now all lots need only 100 feet of frontage regardless of the lake’s status. This opens the door to over-development that can threaten lake quality.

• Tiffany helped large corporations like Gogebic Taconite, owned by a Florida billionaire, rewrite mining laws to make it easier for them to pollute when creating an open-pit iron mine in the Penokee Hills near Lake Superior.

• The Mining Moratorium Law (Prove it First) was reworked by Tiffany and mining lobbyists into Act 134 which allowed weakened wetland and groundwater protection. This made it easier for sulfide mining to occur and damage the environment with acid drainage. Mine tailings, the sulfur-bearing ground rock left after mining, without proper safeguards can continue to convert sulfide to sulfuric acid for hundreds of years.          

(Between 2010 and 2012 Tiffany received $74,915. from mining interests)

• Tiffany increased logging in the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest from 66% of land in forest production to 75%. This upset the balance (at 66%) between the forest products industry and the need for trees that provide habitat, and purify the air and water. The scenic buffers along county roads are now being cut, making our forests appear ragged and open.

• Tiffany was placed on the “dishonor roll” by the League of Conservation Voters — and boasted about it as a “badge of honor.” http://archive.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/tom-tiffany-has-been-a-lightening-rod-on-environmental-issues-b99547320z1-320987941.html/

On the other hand you can choose to protect public lands and waters throughout the U.S. by voting for Tricia Zunker. Unlike Tiffany, Zunker believes in good science as a basis to conserve our environment for future generations and will support immediate efforts to deal with climate change.

Zunker graduated from The University of Wisconsin-Madison with a triple major in political science international relations and French. She received her law degree from UCLA, Zunker has taught constitutional law at several universities and has practiced as an attorney. As a member of the Ho-Chunk nation, she serves as Associate Justice of the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court. She is president of the Wausau school board and during the COVID-19 pandemic is helping to make virtual learning and supplementary meal programs work for all students.

Zunker believes in campaign finance reform and, unlike Tiffany, refuses to accept a dime from corporate PACs. She is endorsed by the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, the AFL-CIO, and the National Education Association. (By comparison Tiffany is endorsed by Sean Duffy, Scott Walker, the NRA, and Wisconsin Right to Life.)

As a nation we don’t need “Toxic Tom” voting to weaken the EPA and lease land in our national parks to oil, gas and mining companies. With climate change rapidly advancing we need a representative in Congress who will advocate for public land conservation and for the health of the natural resources that will help us survive. That person is Tricia Zunker.

Sue Drum

Presque Isle



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