WI Lawmaker: Biden Climate Plans Help Ag, Clean-Job Training

By Mike Moen

A number of elected leaders in Wisconsin have publicly supported the latest climate plans from the Biden administration, and a state lawmaker from the central region hopes it can boost training for clean-energy jobs while protecting agriculture.

As part of his vision to drastically cut greenhouse-gas emissions, President Joe Biden aims to create ten million new clean-energy jobs.

Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, where the Midwest Renewable Energy Association is located, said organizations like it will play a key role in helping displaced workers transition to careers in wind and solar.

"And I think that they would play a key role in enhancing workforce training, skilling up workers in this economy," Shankland stated.

She pointed out having a local group train these workers not only benefits central Wisconsin, but the entire state and Midwest region as well.

Shankland suggested it puts residents in a better position to be hired for renewable-energy work.

Some labor groups and economists are skeptical of Biden's goal, saying the jobs don't always offer competitive wages. Shankland countered a more climate-resilient landscape could better protect local farm communities from extreme weather events.

She noted powerful storms, including one in 2019, have had a devastating impact on farmers in her district. She added flooding and other damage can limit the ability of communities to withstand the long-term effects.

"Severe weather events not only affect our agricultural economy, but they affect the local government response and taxpayers as a whole," Shankland contended.

Meanwhile, other supporters of Biden's infrastructure plan, which is a key part of the administration's climate goals, emphasized it addresses needs such as safer water pipes.

Wisconsin officials say it could improve water quality in underserved communities in cities such as Madison and Milwaukee.

The proposal faces its toughest test in the U.S. Senate, where Republicans balk at paying for it through an increase in the corporate tax.