Jan 22, 2010

2010 Energy and Environmental Battle Starts In Wisconsin

NYTimes - Wis. Opens Decade's First New Climate Efforts

Under the plan, 25 percent of Wisconsin's energy must come from renewable sources by 2025.
The bill creates new renewable fuel standards, lifts Wisconsin's ban on nuclear power plants and calls for new vehicle emission standards to match California's. ..The package would relax the state's moratorium on new nuclear plants if developers can come up with a plan to dispose of radioactive waste, set up tailpipe standards similar to California's (which are more stringent than the federal government's) and mandate the use of gas with lower carbon content if a Midwest Governors Association advisory group recommends standards.

Other provisions include limits on engine idling, greenhouse gas assessments for transportation projects and more energy efficient buildings.

Lawmakers based the bill on recommendations from Doyle's Global Warming Task Force.
But the state's business community is divided over the bill. Several large employers are on board, but the state's largest business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has blasted it, saying it could cost billions of dollars and eliminate jobs.

Two of the Legislature's attorneys walked the state Senate and Assembly clean energy committees through the bill's nuances during a hearing Wednesday. The session was meant as an informational briefing, but Republicans used it to send a message.

Rep. Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, complained that the attorneys didn't offer a cost estimate on the bill. He pointed to a report from the conservative Wisconsin Policy Research Institute that found the bill could cost $16 billion over the next 15 years -- a figure environmentalists and Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle have branded inaccurate.

"The numbers being tossed around ... are substantial," Huebsch said.

"There's also the cost of doing nothing," replied Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona

Read more by TODD RICHMOND, Associated Press

Does it go to far? or is it the first real step?