Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day 2008: A Few Thoughts

Well, this blog is called The Political Environment, so there's no way Earth Day 2008 could come and go without a few relevant observations, especially about the state and local picture.

Statewide, I'd say it's a mixed report card, maybe a B-/ C+.

The Governor got most of his upgrade to the Stewardship Fund approved in the last budget cycle. Similarly, some programming began for alternative energy research and funding.

With the state's agricultural, water and academic resources, there's a chance that more efficient ethanol and energy planning, R&D and actual production can take place in the state.

And it looks like the Great Lakes Compact will be approved in a week or so, no small feat given the flat-out "No!' voiced by Assembly Republicans last month.

That's all to the good.

Unfortunately, it's at least a step backward for each one forward.

The Compact's adoption is a good thing, but the precise bill setting up the rules under which it will be implemented are still unclear - - in large measure because the process to write them prior to their being introduced for a final legislative vote has not been an open one.

And for every step towards alternative energy production that the Governor's budget establishes, regression is in the wings with Murphy Oil's $6 billion expansion onto 400-500 acres of wetlands in Superior.

That's a prescription for harm to Lake Superior and the air downwind, along with miles of pipelines bringing in Canadian Tar San crude for refining, and then flowing out towards Chicago - - all with their inevitable promise of breaks and leaks.

In our neck of the woods, downtown Milwaukee's renaissance is the region's major environmental success story, with thousands of new residents chucking their fertilized lawns and vehicle-bound lifestyles for urban condos and apartments within walking distance of most amenities.

Yet the regional planning commission (SEWRPC) is still working hand-in-glove with state transportation officials to build more highways that starve transit - - a complete contradiction made worse by SEWRPC's recent closed process to hire one of its leading highway proponents as the new Executive Director.

So it's a mixed bag. Some good things, some not so good that repeat a mindset that someday will be just a distant memory.

At a time when every day will be a day that honors the Earth.


Anonymous said...

Fuel prices clobbering the economy (previous article), and you clobbering Murphy Oil for trying to do something about it.

If you want less oil use, you would be in favor of higher fuel cost (including a heft gasoline tax increase.

If you dislike the high price, quit bashing those companies trying to do something about it.

I learned supply & demand in high school. I'm guessing you did too!

Anonymous said...

Big Oil Companies are making megaprofits with the current pump prices.

Anonymous said...

I am going to drive 20 miles in my SUV to get some t-bone steaks and grill out tonight