State Budget Threatens Stewardship & Drinking Water, Fails to Fully Restore Transit!
The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) made major changes to the state budget over the past month. In a move that has proven even too extreme for Governor Walker, JFC gutted the popular stewardship program that has protected over 560,000 acres of land since being enacted in 1990 with bipartisan support. On May 15, JFC voted along party lines not only to cut funding for stewardship by $63.5 million between now and 2020, but they also made changes requiring the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to sell 10,000 acres of stewardship land by 2017, in addition to selling at least 250 acres of farmable land every year.
These outrageous changes destroy habitat and diminish hunting, fishing, hiking, and other recreational opportunities. Contact your legislators today to demand a budget that leaves the stewardship program intact!
On May 21, the JFC adopted language along party lines that prohibits citizens from challenging high capacity well permits (on the basis of impacts that an additional well would cause in the context of existing wells) if the DNR decides not to consider cumulative impacts of the proposal.
High capacity wells pump at least 100,000 gallons of water every day for vegetable crop irrigation, sand mines, factory farms, and other industries. Overpumping has already caused Long Lake and the Little Plover River to dry up. Limiting citizen challenges to high capacity wells jeopardizes Wisconsin's drinking water supply and the native plants and animals that depend on our lakes, rivers, streams, and other water resources. It also threatens swimming, fishing, and boating opportunities that support our $13 billion tourism industry. This short-sighted non-fiscal policy matter has no place in our state budget. What's more, it directly interferes with a pending court case in which citizens in the water-limited Central Sands region have challenged the high capacity well permit for the proposed Richfield CAFO (Confined Animal Feeding Operation). It is therefore URGENT that you contact your legislators today and insist that the high-capacity well language be removed.
As you know, the Sierra Club has been fighting to keep transit in the transportation fund and restore funding for transit, cut by 10% in the last budget. On May 24, JFC voted unanimously to partially restore transit funding, a move that prevented the total loss of several transit systems in the state. Thankfully, in their final motion, the Joint Finance Committee voted against permanently moving funding for transit from the transportation fund to the general fund. This change would have forced transit, an essential form of transportation, to compete with other essential services, such as healthcare and schools for funding. Contact your legislators today and tell them to support a budget that fully restores transit funding!
The budget will be finalized any day now. Please contact your legislators today and hold them accountable for decisions that will impact Wisconsin for years to come. Sending an email will let them know you are watching, and it is the MINIMUM you should do to demand a better budget. Call the legislative hotline at 800-362-9472 to leave a message for your legislators today (be sure to give your full name and address), and send a letter to the editor of the newspaper in your local area expressing your concerns! Thanks for your action.
Urge Legislators to Support Wind Jobs for Wisconsin:
|Tell Legislators to
Oppose SB 71 !
Once again, the wind industry is under attack in Wisconsin. Senator Lasee has proposed SB 71, a bill that undermines the Wind Siting Law, a measure that was enacted to replace the previous patchwork of conflicting local regulations on small wind energy projects (under 100 MW) with clear, fair, statewide rules.
SB 71 undermines this process by allowing political subdivisions (like towns or counties) to obtain an exemption from the wind siting law for "public health" reasons, despite the fact that no peer-reviewed studies have found wind turbines to pose significant public health risks.
We are disappointed to see SB 71 and other bills that create unnecessary barriers to the wind industry, especially as Wisconsin continues to fall behind neighboring states in creating clean energy jobs. According to the American Wind Energy Association, Wisconsin had only 648 MW of wind installed by the end of 2012, as compared to 988 MW in Michigan, 1,543 MW in Indiana, 3,568 MW in Illinois, 5,133 MW in Iowa, and 2,987 MW in Minnesota. As we look around to neighboring states, we are left wondering, why isn’t Wisconsin open for clean energy business? Please contact your legislators today to urge them to OPPOSE this short-sighted policy!
AWEA, US Wind Industry Fourth Quarter Market Report 2012
The Toll from Coal: An Updated Assessment of Death and Disease from America's Dirtiest Energy Source, Clean Air Task Force, 2010
Sierra Magazine, March / April 2013, Wind Rush
EWEA Wind Turbines not a threat to human health, another study finds
Pricey New Coal Plant Shows Need for Better Energy Strategy
At $2.3 billion, We Energies' Elm Road Generating Station, the new coal-fired power plant in Oak Creek, is the most expensive construction project in Wisconsin's history. Ratepayers are footing the bill for this polluting plant, which came in 8% - an additional $191 million - over budget. In 2012, its first full year of operations, Elm Road Generating Station produced only 19% of its rated capacity, according to We Energies' data, roughly one quarter of its projected output over a 12 month period.
These glaring real world results, along with a new study, How to Keep Wisconsin and the U.S. Competitive in a Changing Energy World, conducted by Gary Radloff, Director of Research at University of Wisconsin - Madison's Wisconsin Energy Institute, show that our state's lack of energy strategy threatens our ability to compete with surrounding states and countries. It also calls for forward-thinking policies that would improve Wisconsin's energy outlook, like expanding renewable energy standards, clarifying the ability of third party leasing for renewable energy systems and improving net metering policies that allow renewable energy system owners to receive fair credit for energy they contribute to the grid. The new study is underscored by the fact that Wisconsin sends over $12.5 billion out of state to import fossil fuels every year. Other studies support the idea that adding renewables would be more cost-effective than continuing to rely on fossil fuels. A 2012 report by Synapse Energy Economics showed that installing more wind energy could save Midwestern electrical customers $3 - $9.5 billion annually by 2020.
Radloff's report looked at rankings of all fifty states for clean energy and while Wisconsin did not even make the top 20, Illinois and Minnesota were in the top 10 and Iowa made it into the "Top Five Non-Hydro Renewable States for 2012." Our lack of support for clean energy helps explain why Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation for job creation. Please write a letter to the editor about why YOU think Wisconsin needs a better energy strategy today!
Visit the JMC Legislative Tracker
Learn about the John Muir Chapter's positions on current Wisconsin legislation that affects YOU, right here in Wisconsin. Find out more by visiting Legislative Tracker, then Take Action by contacting your elected officials today!
Take Action on National Conservation Issues
Click Here to take action on federal legislation related to clean energy and global warming, protecting forests and other wild lands, protecting threatened and endangered species, and more through the Sierra Club action page.