Why are we still listening to anything Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce has to say? The right-leaning business lobbying group spent a lot of money to thoroughly destroy any credibility it may have had by helping to elect two under-qualified and deeply compromised justices to the state Supreme Court.
Armed with a deeply flawed study of the bill released by conservative think-tank Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, WMC has its sights set on derailing any efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions and develop cleaner, more sustainable energy sources in the state.
Because it would just be annoying, y'know? All that work. All that long-term thinking. All that altruism. Why, it makes a lobbyist's head hurt just thinking about it!
Now, while I'm not inclined to believe "research" claims made by right-wing, partisan organizations, I also have no compulsion to put all my stock in the claims made by Doyle and the bill's other authors and backers.
We need a relatively disinterested, a-political group to go through the legislation with a fine-toothed comb and release a detailed, straight-forward guide to what the results of such a bill might reasonably be.
Because, simply put, better environmental stewardship is far too important an issue to leave up to partisan bickering and one-upsmanship.
Of course, that's ignoring the fact that too many of my fellow citizens are continuing to labor under the illusion (and delusion) that global climate change is a myth being perpetrated on us by liberal dirt-worshipping beasts who are hell-bent on taking away their SUVs simply out of spite.
They may be right that they'll lose their SUVs, but the reasons have far more to do with wasteful and harmful design that they do anyone's personal vendettas against the gas guzzlers.
The bill would accelerate the development of renewable energy in the state mandating that state utilities supply 10% of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2013 two years faster than the current mandate. By 2025, one-fourth of the state's electricity would have to come from renewable sources.
The bill would also increase investment in energy efficiency in an attempt to reach a goal of cutting energy demand by 2% per year beginning in 2015.
The bill would also relax the state's restrictions on construction of nuclear reactors. Jobs in energy efficiency, renewable energy and the nuclear industry would account for 12,000 of the more than 15,000 jobs projected to be created, an analysis by state agencies found.
It does us nothing but harm to deny the need for drastic action to curb the effects of climate change, both in our state and worldwide. And while there should always be a thorough accounting of bills that purport to address these problems to make sure we avoid as many unintended consequences as possible, just dragging our feet and crying foul every time someone tries to do something about it is a really dangerous tactic.
On the other side of the fence, some environmentalists are very concerned about the part of the bill that would lift Wisconsin's ban on new nuclear energy sources. I'm torn on this one, because I've always thought it was ridiculous that we were creating ridiculously toxic waste-that would remain ridiculously toxic for thousands of years-without any real plan for storing or destroying it.
But I've also learned that current nuclear energy technology is incredibly safe and its immediate effects on the environment are much, much less than things like coal and oil.
This may well be a perfect example of the proverbial double-edged sword. Still, simply lifting the outright ban doesn't strike me as the worst thing ever. It would at least give us room to more fully debate and research the issue. After all, we should be thinking as creatively as possible about as many ways possible to combat this global problem.
The fall of the supermajority?
Let's hope not. Ald. Paul Skidmore, a firm backer of the proposed Edgewater Hotel redevelopment plan still working its way through city councils and commissions, was so irked at the Landmarks Commission's no vote on the issue that he's decided to move for a thorough neutering of the power of such committees.
Skidmore would like to remove the supermajority rule (wherein a Common Council vote of 14 is needed to overturn the rulings of certain committees) entirely, making it easier for the CC to undo decisions certain of its members didn't like.
But is that really how this is supposed to work? Committees, after all, are formed for a reason: To reduce the workload of alders and other city officials by letting a specifically interested group of informed people work on the nitty gritty details of an issue so that the whole of city government doesn't end up bogged down in whether or not to move a specific bus route.
There are alders, like Satya Rhodes-Conway and Mike Verveer at least, who oppose the idea and rightly, I think, point out how disruptive it would be.
Not to mention how petty this whole thing comes off sounding. Is this what we have to expect now every time a major development proposal is shot down, right or wrong? Just a quick rewrite of the law on behalf of the wronged party and hey-presto, everything's fixed! Only, I'm not so sure that such a cavalier attitude toward the law is really the best thing in the world to have. Which isn't to say that I think all laws are just, but shouldn't we maintain that whole "checks and balances" idea as best we can so that all opinions, minority or otherwise, at least have a fighting chance?
On a more cynical note, I can't see how changing the law specifically to benefit the Edgewater proposal will do much to dispel rumors of favoritism and bias. Sometimes you have to recognize when the battle's lost, go back to the drawing table, and come up with a better battle plan for next time.
Please, go back to the drawing table. I think I speak for more Madisonians than just myself when I say that I could seriously use a break from all this Edgewater nonsense.
Target would very much like to move into the site formerly slated for a Whole Foods store at the Hilldale Shopping Center, and so far its progress has gone relatively unremarked upon. Do we seriously need another major retailer in that particular part of town? They've already got three grocery stores, a remodeled mall, shops, restaurants, etc. and a Target not so far to the west. Madison has areas that could really use that kind of resource and investment. This just seems like overkill.
Animal research at the UW I'm still not convinced we're doing it right.