Friday, December 12, 2008

California's Greenhouse Gas Limits Are A Model For Wisconsin

The far-right will tell us the sky will fall, and West Coast capitalism is doomed, but even in a tough economy the State of California has done the right thing instituting a broad set of new rules - - including a carbon emission cap-and-trade incentive system - - designed to aggressively combat air pollution and climate change.

Given the density of people and traffic in southern California, the new rules are completely logical, and I'd expect and hope that there is political carryover to other parts of the US, and to the Congress and Obama administration, as a result.

Which brings us to Wisconsin, where some modest greenhouse gas controls and energy alternatives have been instituted by Gov. Jim Doyle, but nothing on the scale that California has decided is in the interests of its citizens.

In fact, the Wisconsin plan omitted any coordinated commitment to adding transit and reducing highway projects, so one major category of greenhouse gas controls - - tailpipe emissions - - was exempted.

Look no farther than the $5.6 billion in southeastern Wisconsin freeway expansion and 'modernization' funding that is still on the books, with the North-South leg of I-94 from Milwaukee to Illinois, and the Zoo Interchange behemoth now scheduled to be underway, in stages, in over-lapping years.

And talking up the North-South I-94 project as an economic stimulus with so many other pressing transportation needs really misses the point about how best to add value to a local economy, and not only to road-builder bottom lines.

Wisconsin should look to California as a model, especially given Obama's pledge to help stimulate a new, green economy, and to finally make the turn away from highway-building that induced 1950's sprawl that has proven unwise and unsustainable.

Look no further than the stalled subdivisions at Pabst Farms, or the proposal to twist the new Great Lakes Compact into knots right off the bat by piping Lake Michigan water to Waukesha, and dumping treated sewage in return into Underwood Creek at a possible cost of $60 million to just the City of Waukesha alone.

With its new rules and conservationist mindset, California will export to the Eastern US less air pollution - - along with a raft of good ideas and a political strategy worth copying.


Anonymous said...

This is perhaps a joke!? California is in a terrific financial mess and movements such as this only place more regulation and burdens on businesses. Air quality today is far superior to what it was 50 or 75 years ago and continually improving through technological innovation -- and without onerous and costly government intervention.

Anonymous said...

To Governor Doyle,
$5.6 billion off the state budget would sure be a great place to try to get back to pay as we go in the state. Then any big dollar handouts from the feds could be used for some other constructive purposes like public transit.