Tuesday, March 10, 2015

At energy forum today, someone should have thanked Jim Doyle

WisPolitics.com hosted a program in Milwaukee today about an evolving plan under review by the US Environmental Protection Agency that would have the states implement - - by 2030, and through methods of their choosing - - new rules to limit the release of harmful greenhouse gases from power plants.
Photo of emissions from a facility.
Here is the EPA website about the plan, its schedules, goals, and more.

The EPA and President Obama proposed the plan after years of study to make the air healthier, stem the effects of climate change and boost employment in the fast-growing field of renewable energy generation, such as wind and solar.

The EPA is reviewing more than four million comments on the plan, and its final rules will not be released for several months. Today's program continues the dialogue.

Before I get too far into it, I found the program very useful and will check to see if it was recorded.

The only thing missing was a citation of merit on the matter for former Governor Jim Doyle, because if not for his initiatives some years ago, Wisconsin would not be as far along on energy conservation as it is today, and could be facing an emission reduction bar even higher than what the critics today say was already unfair.

I'll get to that in a minute.

The program began with a presentation on the plan by the EPA's regional, Chicago-based administrator, followed by responses from a panel weighted towards critics representing industry and the Walker administration, including his Public Service Commission member and chair nominee Ellen Nowak.
Nowak, (l), Reopelle (rt) bracked industry reps

Nowak and the Walker-dominated PSC recently approved utility rate increases that included new fees on solar installations, and the Walker administration, with a boost from industry representatives now serving in key positions, has joined litigation opposing the EPA plan.

A similar industry/government nexus at the Wisconsin Attorney General's office is aiding our state's official opposition to the EPA plan.

Props, by the way, to Clean Wisconsin spokesman Keith Reopelle for being the lone, strong voice on the panel for the EPA program's clean air, employment and climate change addressing benefits, and for arguing that the plan's savings and other value added has got to be considered by the critics who focused only on infrastructure costs.

What fascinated me about the critics was their chorus of 'we already gave at the office,' and 'we're not getting enough credit' in the EPAs preliminary greenhouse gas emission target for all the good work that "we" have already done.

Nowak pointed to all the progress Wisconsin has made "since 2000" saving energy and investing in conservation.

She and other critics might have stood up and said, 'and thank you Governor Doyle,' since it was Doyle, his moderate-but-effective energy saving initiatives, and the work of his collaborative Task Force on Global Warming that helped prompt those savings Nowak and industry representatives now want recognized more favorably in the EPA target for Wisconsin.

Let's remember that Republicans and their allies at the time blasted the Doyle task force report and attacked legislation designed to implement the task force work.

One of the lead opponents was the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce - - one of the co-sponsors of today's WisPolitics.com program.

That legislation would have boosted Wisconsin's target for power generation above the 10%-by-2015 standard - - where it remains today, so more could and should have been done - - but Republican legislators were joined in a successful move to bottle up a bill's final consideration at the 11th hour by former Democratic State Sen. Jeff Plale from South Milwaukee.

Defeated in a 2010 spring primary election by Chris Larson, in part over his move against the energy conservation legislation, Plale has gone on to receive two, $90,000-per-year administration appointments by GOP Governor and climate change denier Scott Walker.

Yes, denier. Walker signed a pledge a while ago created by Koch brothers' interests to oppose any move against climate change that would require public expenditures - - regardless of the health, employment and environmental advantages.

And who has also a put a growing list of energy conservation and environmental program cuts into his budget.

Side note: Ironically, or pathetically, Plale, with no formal training, is now Wisconsin's Railroad Commissioner and thus has a major responsibility in planning for and responding to what many believe is the inevitable derailment and flammable, polluting spill from one of the numerous Bakken shale oil trains running through our increasingly de-regulated state.

One such spill just took place in nearby Galena, IL, miraculously sparing both the town and a river.

After Walker took office, his "chamber of commerce" DNR, as I have often need on this blog, scrubbed all references from its webpages to the Doyle Task Force work, and erased virtually all linked information from the outside world about climate change.

That helped delete from the record the valuable work done by the Doyle task force, work that went unrecognized at today's Milwaukee program dominated by the same industry interests that want to block the new EPA policies that pick up where the Doyle initiatives were regrettably blocked.

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