Tiffany confused again by reality

Phil Anderson

The Three Stooges behind the anti-wolf "Trust The Science Act” (H.R. 764). From left, Tom "Not a Clue" Tiffany, Lauren "Beetlejuice" Boebert and Pete "I'll Take the Credit for Your Socialist Infrastructure Funding" Stauber. 

As I have pointed out in prior articles, Rep. Tom Tiffany's positions on most issues are misguided and not in the best interests of most of his constituents. Tiffany's positions on the environment are especially harmful. His thinking is founded in partisan talking points and not good science, knowledge and the history or what is actually happening to the environment.     

I am not being partisan in making these statements. When one examines Tiffany's own words, and compares them with the facts from reliable sources, it becomes very clear he is either   misinformed, ignorant or deliberately distorting the truth for political advantage. Below are just two examples of his inaccurate use of statistics, distortion of the facts and harmful thinking.

Tiffany has always opposed the re-introduction of the gray wolf to Wisconsin and placing the wolf on the federal endangered species list. Taking the wolf off the list allows hunting of wolves, which is favored by right wing “sportsmen” (Tiffany supporters).

Wolves were taken off the list in November 2020 under the Trump administration. A U.S. District Court vacated that action in February 2022. Now Tiffany is pushing legislation to reverse this court decision. In his Feb. 9 newsletter Tiffany talks about the “importance of managing the gray wolf population in Wisconsin.“ He claims, “Wisconsin's hunters and wildlife are hurting” because wolves are protected. He says, “Since 2000, we have seen a significant drop in the number of deer harvested in Wisconsin while simultaneously seeing a 300% increase in the gray wolf population in the state."

There are three problems with these statements that voters should note. One is the misleading wording. Tiffany wants you to believe his goal is better “management” and not extermination of wolves. But “managing” using hunting is the reason wolves are endangered.

“Managing” to the anti-wolf advocates means, at best, a population too small to be genetically sustainable. Also note the exaggerated language of crisis (hunters are “hurting” or “300% increase” in wolves). The percentage increase is basically true, but happened during 23 years under mostly protected status. The current high estimate of about 1,000 wolves vs 1.6 million deer in Wisconsin is unlikely to leave hunters “hurting.” This wording is a tactic to stir up emotion and not foster understanding of the issue.

The second problem with Tiffany's statements is his source of information. In his newsletter he links to Hunter Nation, a political advocacy group with no scientific credentials or credibility. Hunter Nation promotes hunting and defends, “...God, Family, Country...[the] “Constitution” and “second amendment rights” (from their website). According to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (which tracks campaign donations) Hunter Nation gave $101,700 to support Dan Kelly's campaign for the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2023. In 2021 Hunter Nation was the plaintiff in a lawsuit that forced the Wisconsin DNR to hold a wolf hunt. The DNR had been against the hunt.

The third problem is Tiffany misinterprets the statistics. Tiffany confuses correlation with causation. Just because two things happen together (as in deer harvest numbers declining and the wolf population increasing) does not mean one causes the other. This is a common logical mistake of people who do not understand statistics.

The deer harvest is down for many reasons (fewer hunters, bad weather, Chronic Wasting Disease or automobile kills) and wolf predation is only one factor. Tiffany's “solution" is the “Trust The Science Act” (H.R. 764). This bill is not about science at all, nor does it promote “trust” in science.

The bill has two “sections,” of one sentence each, with two objectives. It requires removing gray wolves from the endangered list and it declares this action “shall not be subject to judicial review” (which may be unconstitutional). 

The bill was introduced by Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) and co-sponsored by Tiffany and Pete Stauber (R-MN). I doubt one could find three members of Congress less knowledgeable or qualified to legislate on science-related topics.  

Tiffany is also deceiving the public on the issue “green energy.” In keeping with his history of support for industrial polluters, he is attempting to hinder progress on transitioning to alternative energy sources. He is attempting to frighten the public with inaccurate, misleading statements about solar and wind energy.   

Claiming to “protect American farmland” he has introduced the “Future Agriculture Retention and Management Act of 2023’’ or “Farm Act” (HB 963). This makes solar and wind electricity ineligible for certain renewable energy tax credits if the electricity is generated by a public utility on “agricultural land” (a very broad and vague term).

Note that the bill only penalizes alternative energy (what Tiffany denigrates as “intermittent”). The bill does nothing to actually “protect” farm land (or take away tax credits) from being used for oil wells, gas fracking, fracking sand mining, strip mining, pipelines, oil refineries or urban development.  Further twisting the facts, Tiffany fear mongers about the decline in productive agricultural land.

This decades old problem has many causes. Urban sprawl and road expansion are the  major causes. The decline in family farms, low farm income, increase in large industrial farms and incentives to stop farming marginal lands for economic and environmental reasons all have contributed. Again Tiffany confuses correlation with causation and overly simplifies complex issues.    

Tiffany rants about “taxpayers” being “forced to finance green energy giveaways at the expense of our farmland.” He says this will cost $11.3 billion a year in the next decade. He claims his bill will “restore common sense and fairness to energy and agricultural policy by removing the corporate welfare that has propped up intermittent energy sources for far too long.” The truth is “market-distorting energy tax handouts” have been around since 1926 for the fossil fuel industry. Today they cost taxpayers over $20 billion a year. These subsides are for mature, highly profitable industries that are fueling climate change which will cost us all many billions.   

Also no one is being “forced” to move toward better, cleaner, cheaper sources of energy. Farmers, businesses, utilities and the capitalist 'free market” are voluntarily choosing to adopt sensible green energy solutions. There is a new solar farm in Superior.  

Tiffany is simply wrong on many issues. His narrow partisan thinking is bad for Northwest Wisconsin. Voters should elect someone better able to understand statistics and deal with complex issues. We need more honest debate, good information and less political spin.