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Tommy Thompson on Environment

Former Secretary of H.H.S.; former Republican Governor (WI)


Prevent invasive Asian Carp in Great Lakes

Other issues addressed in the debate included Asian Carp getting into the Great Lakes. Both candidates agreed they could not "tolerate or allow" Asian Carp to get into the Great Lakes. Thompson said once that invasive species got into those lakes "there would be no turning back--they'd be here to stay."
Source: Madison Agri-View on 2012 Wisconsin Senate debates , Oct 4, 2012

Oppose UN's Agenda 21 sustainable development

Question 4. Will you work to prevent or reverse the entrenchment of Agenda 21 "sustainable development" strategies in the United States? [Note: "Agenda 21" is the United Nations plan that came out of the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development, which was signed by the United States without formal ratification].

Mark Neumann: Yes

Tommy Thompson: Yes

Source: 2012 Wisconsin Tea Party Senate Debate Questionnaire , Aug 13, 2012

Funded $170M in “conservation easement” land purchases

Stewardship Fund: Gov. Thompson created the innovative program in 1989 and he has used it to purchase the three largest land acquisitions in state history. The governor renews Wisconsin’s environmental legacy by creating Stewardship 2000.

The Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program leverages an additional $170 million in federal funding to bolster Stewardship 2000 through buying land easements to protect sensitive habitats and waters throughout the state.

Source: Wisconsin Governor’s web site, “Budget” , Dec 25, 2000

EPA and OSHA make "government sense", not common sense

Across America, the real-world common sense of ordinary people has been supplanted by "government sense" from Washington DC.

So, for example, when the Environmental Protection Agency sets out to prescribe the appropriate uses of one particular chemical, it produces a regulation that is longer than the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. And under this same government-sense philosophy, it becomes quite rational for the federal government's Occupational Safety and Health Administration to publish 140 separate rules of governing the proper use of wooden ladders in the workplace. Replacing common sense requires a lot of regulations.

Source: Power to the People, by Tommy Thompson, p. 10 , Sep 1, 1996

No helmet law for motorcycles

Every year, my state has lost federal highway funds because we don't have a mandatory helmet law for motorcycles. Wisconsin is the home of Harley-Davidson, and our motorcycle safety record is one of the best in the nation--better than states that have mandatory helmet laws. But our safety record didn't matter to the federal government--it had a rule to enforce.

In 1995, I testified before Congress about the need to eliminate Washington's motorcycle-helmet mandates. The Republican Congress listened and passed a bill that year to eliminate the requirement.

Source: Power to the People, by Tommy Thompson, p. 13-14 , Sep 1, 1996

1987 first bill: more state funding for tourism

I was willing to do or try almost anything to bring jobs and people back to Wisconsin. So many of the changes I proposed--from cutting taxes to welfare reform--were intrinsically part of this drive. I made it clear to everyone that I wanted to make government a partner rather than an obstacle to businesses. The first bill I signed into law increased state funding for state tourism promotion by 300%. In the past decade, I've increased the tourism promotion budget by more than 600% and established a separate state Department of Tourism. It is an example of government spending that pays off in the long run. Wisconsin's tourism industry has created almost 50,000 new jobs since 1986. The investment of $8 million in promotion has helped increase annual tourist spending by $1.38 billion. That spending, and the new jobs it creates has generated more than $400 million in tax revenues to state and local government. That's almost a 5,000% return on the initial investment.
Source: Power to the People, by Tommy Thompson, p.150 , Sep 1, 1996

Preserve state's natural resources without federal mandates

In 1987, one reporter wrote, "Thompson surprised observers by highlighting his commitment to preserving the state's natural resources." Republicans are stereotyped to be anti-environment. If you're pro-business, you must be anti-environment, the labels say.

I had a different view. I had grown up hunting and fishing, as many people in Wisconsin do. I took my son and daughters with me, as many people in Wisconsin do. I had worked on farms as a boy growing up in Elroy. I enjoyed and respected Wisconsin's lakes and crisp clean air as much as any liberal or Democrat did, and I wanted to preserve that priceless heritage for my children and grandchildren--and for theirs.

Just as I was not willing to concede Progressivism to the liberals, I was determined to show that environmental stewardship and economic development are not mutually exclusive. And I wanted to make it clear to Washington that the people of Wisconsin could manage their environment just fine without federal mandates.

Source: Power to the People, by Tommy Thompson, p.163-164 , Sep 1, 1996

1988: $250M Stewardship Fund to preserve sensitive land

In 1988, a board member of the Nature Conservancy, a nationwide environmental advocacy group, talked to me about setting up a fund, with state dollars, to purchase and preserve environmentally sensitive land. To his surprise, I agreed--here was a perfect example of government playing an active role to protect the environment without enacting a whole new set of regulations and hiring more regulators to enforce them. I began working with the legislature to set up the fund. The legislature wanted a $500 million endowment. I met them halfway and signed into law a $250 million Stewardship Fund. Not bad for openers.

Since we started the fund, we have worked with nonprofit groups like the Nature Conservancy, as well as with local governments and businesses, to purchase 107,000 acres of green space, riverbanks, and other environmentally precious land. The fund has financed more than 1,400 land purchases.

Source: Power to the People, by Tommy Thompson, p.167-168 , Sep 1, 1996

Multi-state purchasing agreement for recycled paper

I wanted to increase government's use of recycled paper. I soon learned, to my dismay, that it was too expensive to purchase the recycled paper in the quantity we used. The price came down as the volume increased, but the state needed only so much paper. Staff designed a multi-state purchasing agreement under which Wisconsin and five neighboring states agreed to cut through our various procurement regulations and jointly purchase recycled paper. This was the nation's first such multi-state purchasing agreement. By joining together, we were able to purchase the paper at a volume-discount price. Together, we buy more than30 million pounds of recycled paper a year. The paper we are saving otherwise would consume 560,000 square feet of landfill.
Source: Power to the People, by Tommy Thompson, p.169 , Sep 1, 1996

Replace MTBE in gasoline with cleaner ethanol.

Thompson signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Ethanol 00-MGC1 on May 25, 2000

More EPA flexibility on interstate ozone.

Thompson signed the Midwestern Governors' Conference resolution:

Source: Resolution of Midwestern Governors' Conf. on Clean Air 98-MGC2 on May 12, 1998

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Environment.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Tommy Thompson.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Tommy Thompson.
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George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
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George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)

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Page last updated: Mar 14, 2014