THU AM News: State District Export Council supports ending trade disputes; Milwaukee, Madison ranked among top 10 in EPA Energy Star ratings

— The Wisconsin District Export Council is supporting U.S. and European Union efforts to end trade disputes, following reports officials will seek to end steel and aluminum tariffs in the coming months. 

“It has been demonstrated that free and unfettered trade with nations that share our common values and ethics provides more opportunities to our exporters, as compared to countries with protectionist tactics designed to impede foreign competition,” Wisconsin DEC Chair Chad Hoffman said in a statement. 

Plus, he noted that importing raw materials from trade partners without import taxes gives U.S. manufacturers a competitive advantage. 

Hoffman’s comments came amid a June 15 summit between the United States and EU, which resulted in an agreement to end a longstanding trade dispute related to aircraft companies Boeing and Airbus. 

That 17-year trade dispute included a 2019 arbitration award from the World Trade Organization allowing for implementation of tariffs on certain EU goods. Hoffman explained that retaliatory EU tariffs on goods imported from the United States were levied in response to the Section 232 national security tariffs enacted by then-President Trump. But he noted the imposition of EU tariffs on “certain marquee brands including Wisconsin’s Harley Davidson was not by accident.” 

A report from Bloomberg News last week detailed a draft memo ahead of the summit indicating U.S. and EU officials aim to remove steel and aluminum tariffs by the end of the year. But no announcements have yet been made on these tariffs. 

“As these disputes have been ongoing for several years (over 15 years in the case of Airbus), the total cost has been significant,” Hoffman told “For this reason, the Wisconsin DEC is very supportive of this commitment by both sides to resolve the trade battles as it will result in greater access to the EU markets for Wisconsin exporters.” 

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business group, has previously highlighted the negative impacts that retaliatory steel and aluminum tariffs have on manufacturers in the state, driving up the cost of needed materials. 

In a statement, WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer reiterated that supply chain costs ultimately make goods more expensive for both U.S. manufacturers and consumers. But he added that U.S. trading partners haven’t always provided U.S. companies with “reciprocal access” to overseas markets, calling that dynamic “unfair.” 

“So, while we applaud the Biden Administration’s actions to eliminate tariffs, there still must be strong enforcement mechanisms in place that put U.S. companies on a level playing field with foreign competitors,” Bauer said. 

See more on trade at this page, including video of a Tuesday event on immigration reform:

— Milwaukee and Madison have been ranked among the top 10 medium-sized U.S. cities for the number of Energy Star certified buildings by the Environmental Protection Agency. 

The Energy Star certification is granted by the EPA for commercial buildings that score 75 or higher on the agency’s 1-100 scale for energy efficiency, which incorporates energy use, occupancy and hours of operation. Certified buildings are more energy-efficient than 75 percent of similar buildings in the country, a release shows. 

Milwaukee was ranked seventh in this year’s list with 34 certified buildings, while Madison was ranked 10th with 28 certified buildings. 

In a statement, Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway notes that nearly half of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions come from its buildings. To reach the city’s stated goal of net carbon neutrality by 2050, she says every building will have to work to reduce emissions. 

“I commend the building owners who have pursued Energy Star certification to rise to the top of their class in building energy performance, and to encourage every developer and landowner to follow in their footsteps,” she said. 

The EPA release shows commercial buildings make up about 18 percent of the country’s total energy use, with more than $190 billion in annual energy costs. Buildings certified through the Energy Star program use 35 percent less energy on average and emit 35 percent less carbon dioxide than the typical commercial building. 

See the full rankings here: 

See more on the program: 

— The number of COVID-19 vaccines administered each day in Wisconsin continues to decrease steadily, according to the latest data from the Department of Health Services. 

Providers administered 5,942 doses of vaccine on Tuesday, which is down from the peak of 92,472 daily doses at the beginning of April. As of yesterday, 49.2 percent of state residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 44.6 percent have completed their vaccine series. 

The DHS dashboard shows that 84 percent of residents who are 65 or older have been vaccinated for COVID-19, while lower age ranges have lower vaccination rates. They range from 66.4 percent for residents between the ages of 55 and 64, to 24.8 percent for residents between the ages of 12 and 15. 

New confirmed cases and COVID-19 deaths in the state continue to decline as well. But 27 counties in Wisconsin still have a high activity level for the disease, while 42 have a medium activity level. Just three counties in the state have a low activity level for the virus. 

See the latest state vaccination numbers: 

For more of the most relevant news on the coronavirus outbreak, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin and links to top stories, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from and

Sign up here:

— DHS is now tracking a variant of the COVID-19 virus that could spread more quickly than the original strain. 

According to a release, scientists don’t know if this Delta variant has any difference in disease severity. DHS has identified 26 cases of the variant strain in Wisconsin since April and will begin publishing related findings on a weekly basis. 

The Delta variant was recently upgraded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from a “variant of interest” to a “variant of concern,” meaning it could pose a greater threat. 

DHS says certain therapeutics such as antibody treatments could be less effective against the Delta strain due its “unique mutations.” And lab studies have found antibodies created in the body may also be less effective against this strain. Still, available COVID-19 vaccines have been found to be effective against it. 

“Wisconsin continues to report an increasing proportion of COVID-19 cases across the state that are variants of concern,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “We urge Wisconsinites to protect themselves, their families, and their communities by getting vaccinated.”

See more on the Delta variant: 

— Rural health clinics in the state are set to receive $10.9 million in federal funding for COVID-19 testing and response efforts, according to a release from U.S. Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse. 

“As we turn the corner on this pandemic and vaccines continue to roll out, it’s more important than ever to be giving our Rural Health Clinics the funding they need to continue fighting off this virus, getting shots in people’s arms, and keeping Wisconsinites safe and healthy,” Kind said.

The release shows 109 different clinics in Wisconsin will each get $100,000 to expand COVID-19 testing resources for rural residents, as well as other local programs aimed at reducing the spread of the virus. 

Dr. Susan Turney, CEO of Marshfield Clinic Health System, says the increased funding recognizes the important role these clinics play in rural areas, which often have shortages of health care professionals. Medical care at these locations is often provided by physicians assistants or nurse practitioners, according to the state Department of Health Services. 

“Ensuring care as close to home as possible is a foundational element of our approach to caring for communities across Wisconsin,” she said in a statement. “These funds will make a meaningful difference in the lives and well-being of those we serve.”

See a recent story on rural health care in Wisconsin: 

See the release: 

— Tobacco retailers in suburban Milwaukee and Ozaukee County are being asked to post new signage as a part of a DHS campaign to prevent anyone under 21 from purchasing tobacco.

With the passage of the federal Tobacco 21 bill in 2019, individuals must be 21 or older to buy tobacco products. Nearly 4,700 Americans under 21 try cigarettes for the first time each day, and 1,400 of those individuals will become regular smokers, according to a DHS release. 

The DHS awareness campaign, run by Mequon-based Jump at the Sun Consultants, will provide a window decal alerting customers to the age requirement and free online training. The training would inform retailers about the guideline changes and train employees how to check ID’s.

Tobacco retailers caught making underaged sales will be fined.


# An ‘historic commitment’: Stakeholders praise budget committee’s decision to boost money for nursing homes, low-income dental services

# FDA approves Madison-based skin graft technology to treat burns

# Milwaukee Mayor Barrett calls for $15 minimum wage for city employees



– Eau Claire Co. gearing up for Farm Tech Days


– New partnerships in Marquette University’s future to address anticipated enrollment decline


– DNR: Fire danger remains high across Wisconsin

– Continued drought could affect Wisconsin fruit, vegetable crops


– Wisconsin bill forbids requiring proof of COVID vaccination


– Summer Shandy experiences 2021 growth, new Leinenkugel’s scholarship program: Beer Biz MKE


– Longtime Milwaukee radio personality Gene Mueller to retire from WTMJ-AM


– Wisconsin Republicans plan $125 million for broadband expansion and reject funding to improve birth outcomes in next state budget

– Wisconsin bill forbids requiring proof of COVID vaccination


– Rep. Ron Kind introduces legislation that would define ‘natural cheese’


– Milwaukee Brewers rank ninth in MLB in average attendance

– Wisconsin Assembly to vote on transgender sports bans


– Application period open for Clean Diesel Grants Program


– Summerfest in Milwaukee, America’s largest music festival, is going cashless for the first time in 2021


– Budget Committee votes to cut public transit funding in Madison and Milwaukee


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

Heidel House: Completely renovated hotel and conference center debuts on the shores of Green Lake, Wisconsin

Greater Milwaukee Foundation: National expert joins local dialogue on equitable economic opportunity

DHS: Reminds retailers of new tobacco purchase age