I recently enjoyed an interesting week that included 4 meetings at diverse locations chatting with a wide variety of Wisconsinites. By the end of the week I asked myself that same question, “Who are these guys and gals?” And what issue attracted such a wide-ranging mix of folks?
Meeting #1 – At Blue Mounds State Park with folks likely to self-identify as “environmentalists.” Political affiliations – presumably a range from conservative to liberal. Beverage of choice – Water.
Meeting #2 - In the State Capitol in Madison with representatives of 7 townships meeting with 6 legislative aides (3 Republican and 3 Democratic) from Southwest Wisconsin. Beverage of choice – Beverage?? Hey we’re working here!
Meeting #3 – In a rural tavern somewhere near Cassville with country folks, mostly farmers and a few others from the metropolis of Montfort. Political affiliations – far right to far left. Beverage of choice – You kidding? We’re in a tavern!
Meeting #4 – On the sidewalk outside a coffee shop in Spring Green with an attorney who previously acted as U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator and yours truly. Political affiliations – one of each. Beverage of choice – Latte anyone?
Conservative and liberal, rural and urban, beer drinking and latte sipping – representing the spectrum of humanity right here in Southwest Wisconsin. So who are these guys and gals? They are folks who value the unique characteristics of their Driftless Area homeland. They are hard working, frugal folks who know the value of a dollar. They are independent-minded property owners who don’t appreciate heavily financed outside interests telling them what to do with their own private land.
And what issue unites them? The proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek (CHC) high-capacity 345kV transmission line would run through the heart of Southwest Wisconsin disrupting both the environment and the economy. With Wisconsin’s electricity rates already the highest in the Midwest and scant if any objective justification showing a need for this huge, expensive infrastructure, Wisconsin ratepayers are saying, “No Thank You!” to this added expense.
Who are these guys and gals? They are the doggedly persistent foes of the CHC proposal because we all deserve better here in our unique driftless landscape where we’re forever… Earthbound.