Wisconsin pays more if the state fails to act

Posted on January 20, 2010. Filed under: Climate change, Energy Policy |

From an editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

The Clean Energy Jobs Act will require trade-offs, but we’re confident that the cost of the measure will be far less than if we stand pat.

A bill just introduced in the state Legislature holds the promise of growing new technologies, new jobs and energy independence in Wisconsin. Its goals of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and increasing conservation efforts and renewable and alternative sources of energy are good public policy. They deserve widespread support in the Legislature and from citizens.

The bill comes with costs, and the Legislature should do what it can to mitigate those costs to businesses and families, especially the neediest. But doing nothing in the face of the climate change that science says is already taking place will be even more costly. And even if the worst projections of climate change don’t come to fruition, and even if the federal government doesn’t act on a bill of its own, it’s still important to reduce Wisconsin’s reliance on fossil fuels and increase our use of renewable energy. Public health and the environment demand no less.

Just as important in the wake of the Great Recession, the Clean Energy Jobs Act, based on the recommendations of the governor’s Global Warming Task Force, also brings opportunity. Gov. Jim Doyle asserts the bill will create more than 15,000 jobs. Maybe that’s an overestimation; maybe not. But it’s clear that jobs will be created and that the bill could put the state in position to take advantage of a new wave in the so-called green economy. Getting ahead of other states would benefit businesses as well as the families who need jobs.

The act provides a launching pad for a number of efforts that could move Wisconsin forward. It is not without flaws – and those flaws need to be addressed by legislators – but if done right, this bill deserves to be enacted this year.

A key element of the bill is a requirement that Wisconsin generate 25% of its power from renewable sources such as wind turbines, biomass plants and solar panels by 2025, up from 5% in 2008.


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