Some say new regulations can hurt taxpayers, economy
Gov. Jim Doyle’s panel on global warming completed 16 months of work Thursday and now faces the challenge of cutting greenhouse gases as the economy sours and energy prices soar.
Doyle’s bipartisan panel voted 26-3 for a series of measures, including a big expansion in wind power, to reduce emissions 22% by 2022.
“People in Wisconsin really are ready to take this issue of global warming on, in a very serious way,” Doyle said. “And they are ready to take some very significant steps that will help clean up the environment but will also create jobs for us along the way.”
But the package faces an uncertain future because Republicans control the Assembly and concerns about the economy are mounting.
To underscore that point, a nationwide tour criticizing global warming measures will come Saturday to West Allis, where a congressman and other officials will be on hand as organizers send a 70-foot-tall hot air balloon into the sky.
The event will be staged by Americans for Prosperity, a taxpayer watchdog group with more than 14,000 members in Wisconsin that is critical of the Doyle plan.
“We will argue – and quite loudly – about the economic impact of some of the laws, regulations and fees that will come out of the governor’s task force report,” said Mark Block, state director of the group.
Speakers will include U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls), County Executive Scott Walker and state Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon).
Doyle said his task force is broad-based and includes utilities, businesses and Republican legislators. The panel’s final report calls for reduced dependence on foreign oil and coal.
“If we stay locked in the current path,” he said in an interview, “we know what the results are: You’re paying four and a quarter at the pump, and you’re worrying about how you’re going to heat your home – and having global warming as a result of it.”
The task force seeks to triple or quadruple the investment in energy efficiency and expand power from wind turbines and other renewable sources – partly by building turbines on the Great Lakes.
Wisconsin would generate 10% of its power from wind and solar by 2013 and 25% by 2025 under its scenario.
Other key measures include:
• A regional or national plan to cap emissions and reduce them over time by allowing parties to trade in emission credits.
• Expansion of mass transit, such as a commuter rail extension from Kenosha to Milwaukee.
• Relaxation of limits barring construction of nuclear plants.
The panel also authorized a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 70% from 1990 levels by 2050.
Ott, a former television meteorologist, said he was troubled the task force did not weigh the role of factors other than human sources in rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
He said the panel should have made nuclear power a higher priority.
Sensenbrenner, a member of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, has stressed the importance of the private sector in attacking the problem.
By Thomas Content and Lee Bergquist
24 July 2008
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