Monday, December 15, 2008

Cut The Sprawl, Cut The Warming

That was the headline on an editorial this summer in The New York Times, and while the context was California, it could easily be applied to Southeastern Wisccnsin.

The state has instituted some thoughtful approaches in the fight against climate change, including job training programs, power plant regulatory reform and alternative fuel research - - all to the good - - but then pushes forward with billions in highway expansion and will endorse elaborate schemes to pump Lake Michigan water into development on Waukesha County farms and open space that exacerbate - - not diminish - - the sprawl/warming connection.

The blame for this planning and financing disconnect runs from the State Capitol to the Waukesha city government and its water utility to the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and its 1950's mindset, to talk radio, which has helped block rail transit and the air quality benefits that come with it.

Without real reform in both thinking and plan implementation, Wisconsin will be trapped in a policy contradiction that keeps the air dirty, rewards the highway lobby, paves farmland and wastes the opportunity to deal with climate change at the local, state and regional levels.

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