By Janette Rosenbaum, 350 Madison
In November 2018, Wisconsinites will vote for a governor. This post is the seventh in a series on the environmental views of the candidates. This series is for information only. 350 Madison does not officially support any candidate.
What are the most important issues that you would take on if you were elected governor?
“The first would be getting rid of coal and nuclear power,” said Robbie Hoffman, whose website declares he is running as an “independent environmental candidate.” “I believe in green energy,” Hoffman said. “It creates a lot of jobs.” In addition, he said, “pollution just has too much of an effect on what we believe in – organic food, our waterways, hunting, fishing. I just want to eliminate all coal and nuclear power. That’s the main thing.”
Hoffman also named good-paying jobs as a priority. “Too many people are struggling,” he said. If he were elected governor, he would implement a $15-an-hour minimum wage.
Finally, Hoffman told us he would prioritize fixing Wisconsin’s education system. “Student loans are really bogging people down,” he said. “People aren’t getting what they need out of education, because the price is too high.”
Where would you rate environmental issues on your priority list?
Based on Hoffman’s answer to the previous question, we asked simply, “Is the environment your number-one priority?” He responded with an emphatic “Yes.”
Within the broad topic of the environment, what do you think are the most important issues?
First, Hoffman told us that recycling is “huge”. “We still have corporates that don’t recycle,” he said. Targeting a specific company, he added, “Starbucks is one of them.”
Hoffman next talked about the importance of restoring and protecting our waterways, by removing invasive species, such as Asian carp; cleaning up the algae that is already present; and preventing more algae from moving in.
“Runoff is a big issue,” Hoffman said, naming a third environmental priority. “I understand the farmers’ perspective,” he told us, but Wisconsin’s tourism industry is already seeing a decline due to the degraded state of our waterways, which in turn is due to runoff. Hoffman summarized the impact by saying, “The beaches, they stink.” Hoffman also sees runoff as a health issue. “It affects everything,” he concluded.
Where would you rate climate change on your priority list?
“Climate change is a big issue,” Hoffman said, and gave some examples of the magnitude of the problem, and the way the issue has gotten politicized. “There are so many Republicans and Democrats that don’t believe that it’s true science. They go back and forth about how they just think that it’s false. The glaciers are melting at a record pace. Every 20 minutes a polar bear dies from drowning. … I think eventually Florida is going to be underwater.”
If you were elected governor, what would you do to address climate change, and how soon would you do it?
Returning to one of his earlier themes, Hoffman answered, “There’s a lot of things that can be done, and one of the issues is pollution. Coal and nuclear power, we can reverse things, if we start now. If we wait too late, there probably won’t be a population in 200 years.”
Hoffman thinks that we have 50-60 years to take action on climate change, before the worst impacts become unavoidable. He doesn’t see that as an excuse to continue delaying, though. If he were elected, he would begin working to address the problem “immediately”.
Asked what, specifically, he would do about climate change, Hoffman reiterated his campaign promise to eliminate coal. He says he will “start creating jobs in clean energy, make it affordable. And as well, just through legislation, making sure that companies need to start changing over, and make sure it’s enforced.”
Hoffman’s energy plan is definitely not all-of-the-above, but it does include all kinds of green energy. “If you just go through one source,” Hoffman said, meaning relying on only solar power, or only wind energy, “it’s not going to work” to create good, long-lasting jobs for everyone.
Hoffman summed up the need to get serious about working to prevent climate change: “There’s a lot of research to prove that environmentalists aren’t lying.”
Do you know what Line 61 is?
Hoffman wasn’t familiar with Wisconsin’s major tar sands pipeline. Quizzed on his knowledge about Enbridge, Hoffman optimistically asked, “Is it a green energy company?”
After learning a little about Enbridge and their pipeline network, Hoffman said, “I do not agree with it. … I don’t believe in this pipeline.”
“I was actually pretty proud of the people that stood up to it,” Hoffman added, referring to fights against various pipelines and fossil fuel infrastructure across the country. “I’m not a fan of the pipeline. I’m not a fan of oil. … I’ve seen pictures and I’ve seen videos of what they leave behind when they go for oil, and it’s pretty disgusting.”
Our electoral process keeps handing Wisconsinites candidates who can’t beat the current incumbent, Hoffman said. He believes he’s the better choice. “I know for a fact I can beat Walker,” he told us, citing his undergraduate and graduate degrees in psychology as the source of his expertise on his chances of winning.
Hoffman has run for governor of Wisconsin before. At the time of our interview, he did not yet have enough petition signatures to get on the ballot for this election cycle.