Conservationists, alternative industry leaders and tech innovators should be congratulated for bringing some rationality to the State Capitol and a halt to Scott Walker's new industry-and-jobs' killing wind turbine siting restrictions.
The wind turbine siting restriction - - headed now for hearings - - was a bad proposal that would keep the state dependent on fossil fuels, drain the market of opportunities for manufacturers and suppliers, undo years of work at the Public Service Commission.
And it should be exposed as a special interest sop for major Walker donors who bragged about its introduction, according to this news account:
"Observers at the Statehouse are still trying to determine why Walker wants to make things more difficult for the wind power industry, given the promise of new jobs and an estimated $1.8 billion worth of projects already in the works.Now we need cooler, more thoughtful heads to prevail as consideration continues on two additional special interest-inspired Walker initiatives: his plan to assume rule-making approval authority from the Legislature and to exempt small wetlands parcels from full reviews for development.
Clean-energy advocates are pointing fingers at the state's real estate interests, which maintain that wind turbines significantly decrease property values. In addition, if farmers are able to collect rent by leasing their property for wind projects, they are less inclined to sell their land for a new subdivision.
Wisconsin Realtors Association lobbyist Tom Larson told Midwest Energy News that his group was "definitely" the driving force in getting Walker to call for changes in the wind siting rules.
Rules drafted by the state Public Service Commission take effect in March and create uniform standards statewide, including a required setback of 1,250 feet from homes. The Walker proposal... calls for a 1,800-foot setback from the property line - a much more stringent requirement.
Campaign contributions may also have played a role. Records compiled by the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign show Walker received $750,833 from the construction industry and $427,629 from Realtors through Oct. 18, 2010.
"The two special interests who like the anti-windmill bill gave him nearly $1.2 million during his run for governor," notes WDC research director Mike Buelow."
Walker's attack on rule-making, or efforts to commandeer it, are in sync with national GOP efforts to roll back federal rules and the authority of the EPA.
People have to get organized against these radical notions, or the public health and safety will be compromised.