Doyle defends climate legislation

Posted on December 7, 2009. Filed under: Climate change |

From an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Lee Bergquist and Patrick Marley:

Madison — Gov. Jim Doyle on Friday rejected claims that Wisconsin’s coming climate legislation will hurt the state’s economy.

He said a move to renewable fuels and green technologies will help the state.

At an event marking the installation of solar panels on the top of the State Capitol, Doyle said he hoped to unveil the Clean Energy Jobs bill in the next few weeks.

The legislation is expected to expand the use of renewable energy to 25% by 2025 by relying on sources such as wind and biomass from locations in and out of the state.

In 2007, Wisconsin derived 4% of its power from green sources. The share will increase to 10% by 2015.

The legislation would also relax Wisconsin’s moratorium on constructing nuclear plants. Investment in energy efficiency would increase. Also, new low-carbon fuels standards would be imposed.

The legislation is based on recommendations from Doyle’s Global Warming Task Force, which also suggested a preference for a national cap-and-trade program to cut emissions.

A coalition of business groups said this week that the bill will slow Wisconsin’s economic recovery, cost jobs and represent an “enormous drag” on the economy.

Wisconsin has gradually lost its standing as a low-cost electricity provider in the upper Midwest. The coalition said that a shift to renewable energy sources and other mandates will drive up business costs.

“We cannot afford to make electricity more expensive if we want to remain competitive,” the group said in a letter to Doyle, legislators and members of governor’s Global Warming Task Force.

The coalition includes Wisconsin Manufactures & Commerce, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Wisconsin Builders Association and Wisconsin Paper Council.

But Doyle has his own base of support. In addition to environmental and conservation groups, the state’s electric utilities and the state’s largest company, Glendale-based Johnson Controls Inc., a maker of automotive batteries and energy efficiency systems, are backing Doyle’s initiatives.

Supporters, including Rep. Spencer Black (D-Madison), said that without ratcheting up the use of renewable fuels, Wisconsin will continue to spend about $20 billion annually on fossil fuels produced out of state.

Said Doyle: “States that stick their head in the sand and pretend this isn’t happening are states that five, ten, fifteen years from now are going to be looking around saying, ‘How come we don’t have a piece of that economy?’ ”


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