Gundersen Health System and Organic Valley are collaborating on the Cashton Wind Energy Project, a two-turbine wind farm that is expected to generate nearly 5 megawatts of energy — enough electricity to power 1,000 homes each year. 

Critics of Gov. Scott Walker would say there are numerous lumps of coal buried in the $68 billion budget he unveiled a week ago. And Kate Sheppard of the Huffington Post found one that is literally a gift to the coal industry.

It consists of $250,000 toward a study "on wind energy system-related health issues."

Sheppard notes that such studies have been done in the past, finding no health effect caused by wind turbines.

"The Wisconsin Wind Siting Council, an advisory group to the state's Public Service Commission, issued a report to the state Legislature last fall that concluded that 'some individuals residing in close proximity to wind turbines perceive audible noise and find it annoying,'" Sheppard writes. "But 'it appears that this group is in the minority and that most individuals do not experience annoyance, stress, or perceived adverse health effects due to the operation of wind turbines.'"

So why is Walker concerned about the health effects of wind power? One possible explanation, Sheppard writes, is Walker's unflagging support of the coal industry.

For his all-but-certain run for the presidency, Walker will need the help of people like Charles and David Koch, whose fortunes were build on fossil fuels.

The free-market Heartland Institute, one of many conservative think tanks funded by the Kochs, has been a vocal opponent of wind energy. And the group  touted a decision last fall by Brown County declaring eight wind turbines at the Shirley Wind Farm a health hazard.

Walker has been a guest speaker at Heartland events.

The Heartland Institute and other Koch-funded groups also oppose Common Core educational standards. In the past Heartland has taken Walker to task for not opposing them enough.

Here's the group's reaction to another part of Walker's budget: his announcement that he was seeking repeal of Common Core. 

“Gov. Walker’s recent proposal to end Common Core’s ‘Smarter Balanced’ testing is an important first step in dismantling the Common Core apparatus. By freeing up districts from Common Core mandates, Walker is potentially saving districts millions of dollars in implementation costs."

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Steven Elbow joined The Capital Times in 1999 and has covered law enforcement in addition to city, county and state government. He has also worked for the Portage Daily Register and has written for the Isthmus weekly newspaper in Madison.

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