By Eric Roston
8 April 2015
(Bloomberg) – Discussing climate change is out of bounds for workers at a state agency in Wisconsin. So is any work related to climate change—even responding to e-mails about the topic.
A vote on Tuesday by Wisconsin’s Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a three-member panel overseeing an agency that benefits schools and communities in the state, enacted the staff ban on climate change. “It’s not a part of our sole mission, which is to make money for our beneficiaries,” said State Treasurer Matt Adamczyk, a Republican who sits on the board. “That’s what I want our employees working on. That’s it. Managing our trust funds.”
Adamczyk raised his concern at a public meeting on Tuesday that the board’s executive director, Tia Nelson, had spent on-the-job time working on global warming. Nelson did indeed work on climate change a bit in 2007 and ’08—at the request of the governor. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle, who stepped down in 2011, appointed Nelson as co-chair of a global warming task force (PDF). “It honestly never occurred to me that being asked by a sitting governor to serve on a citizen task force would be objectionable,” she said.
Nelson is the daughter of Gaylord Nelson, the U.S. Senator from Wisconsin who established Earth Day in 1970. For 17 years before joining the public land agency, she ran the Nature Conservancy's climate change initiative.
The measure affecting a small number of Wisconsin state workers follows an alleged effort by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to stop employees from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official communications. […]
The Florida Center for Investigative Reporting revealed last month that state officials had been ordered not to use the phrases “global warming” or “climate change.” Adamczyk was the subject of a short profile last month in the New York Times. [more]