A breath of wind from the wings of madness
If Gov. Scott Walker is so keen to create jobs in Wisconsin, why is he already doing so much to cripple and/or kill those industries most poised to do so?
First there was high-speed rail, and now the state is staring down the barrel of Special Session Assembly Bill 9, which would "mandate minimum setbacks of 1,800 feet between a wind turbine and the nearest property line. That compares with a setback of 1,250 feet from a neighboring residence approved by the Public Service Commission in a rule adopted last year and set to take effect this year," and at least 450 feet from property boundaries.
If passed, the new regulation would effectively stall or outright kill most of the current wind farm projects in Wisconsin, a loss of some $500 million in investment into a sustainable, clean source of energy over the next two years, as well as $1.8 billion in long-term wind energy investment in the state. Oh and, something like 950 jobs.
I'm not the only one sounding an alarm on this issue, certainly. This seems like a pretty plain instance of bad business, which you'd think Walker -- who talks big about being gung-ho pro-business -- would recognize. Unfortunately for all of us, Walker appears to be demonstrating that he'll only support those businesses that already enjoy the most profit and therefore lobbying power.
Like President Obama noted in his State of the Union speech, however, these are the very companies that don't need public help: "We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."
Now there's an idea.
In Wisconsin, it's a simple matter of changing "oil" to "coal" in the speech and he'd be right on target. There is currently no such thing as "clean coal," despite what the industry's misleading ad campaigns might have us believe. What sources, then, are truly clean? The sun, the water, the wind -- those elements that have been right there, readily available since the beginning.
The far more reasonable PCS siting rules noted above took into consideration homeowner concerns as well as over 100 reports on safety and medical issues related to wind turbines. And yet Walker would ignore the PCS results entirely to impose restrictive, job-killing regulations in their place? How does that make sense?
It doesn't -- not in the least, and it's why a chorus of voices (including mine) are calling on the governor to back off from these new rules and abide by those agreed upon by the PCS. This one thing won't solve all of our problems, but it's a crucial piece of the long-term puzzle. I'd love to see Wisconsin take the lead in sustainable, clean energy technology -- an industry that can't be outsourced and that will help not just our state, but the world see a brighter future -- and I honestly do not care about the political affiliations of the leaders who help get us there.
I'm not holding my breath with Walker, but I won't give up hope, either.
The times, they are a-changin': Gay marriage has reached majority support in 17 states, according to a new study and report released this week. In addition, "According to a 2008 statistical report compiled by Nate Silver of the New York Times, another 10 states -- including Iowa -- are predicted to cross the 50% threshold by 2013."
Attorney General JB Van Hollen, emboldened by newly minted Governor Walker, has officially added Wisconsin to the list of states suing the federal government over the health care law. It's good to know our state's top cop is spending his time trying to tear down a massively money- and life-saving bill whose detractors have yet to offer any viable alternatives to. All while his move qualifies, at most, as a bad political stunt. Aren't there any more pressing issues facing the AG's office these days?
This is reprehensible: "In a bill guised as lawsuit or tort reform, our lawmakers have decided that long-term care providers will be able to police themselves and provide better care without the threat of an expensive lawsuit." I'm going to talk more about this next week because it deserves more in-depth thought and analysis than I currently have time for. But seriously, what the hell?