Op Ed

Trump’s Energy Order Will Hurt State

Will harm environment, forego $55 million savings from energy efficiency.

By , Clean Wisconsin - Apr 4th, 2017 11:43 am
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Wind Turbines

Wind Turbines. Photo by Martin Abbeglen

Let’s be very clear: Wisconsin’s agricultural industry, our tourism industry, the quality and quantity of our water resources, our natural landscapes, and our health are all threatened by fossil fuel industry-funded efforts to block meaningful climate change policies from taking effect.

This is not hyperbole or exaggeration. It is fact.

On Tuesday, Wisconsin and our planet suffered a major setback when President Donald Trump unleashed a full-frontal assault on years of bipartisan progress to protect future generations from the most devastating impacts of climate change.

The president’s reckless executive order begins to roll back the federal Clean Power Plan and rescinds at least six major climate change policies implemented by the previous administration.

The Clean Power Plan is the most significant step our nation ever has taken toward addressing the looming crisis of climate change. Trump’s recent action proved he values fossil fuel industry profits more than he values our children’s health and safety. No one is surprised, but most of us are appalled.

Climate change threatens public health in Wisconsin, particularly for children and seniors, and it also threatens our way of life in this great state.

Warmer winters and shorter periods of snow cover threaten snowmobiling, skiing, hunting, ice fishing and other forms of outdoor recreation Wisconsinites value so much. Erratic and unpredictable precipitation and increasingly frequent extreme weather events threaten farming and cause costly droughts and flooding. Warmer summers open the door to invasive species and diseases and threaten native wildlife habitat. For example, at our current rate of carbon emissions and warming, Wisconsin will lose all of its brook trout habitat by the middle of this century.

These are just a few of the current and impending impacts of climate change on Wisconsin.

The Clean Power Plan’s benefits go beyond climate change. A Clean Wisconsin analysis found that if Wisconsin complied with the Clean Power Plan by, in part, doubling our investment in energy efficiency, then electricity customers would save an average of $55 million a year.

Those are economic benefits everyone should welcome.

Trump’s executive orders won’t stop action on climate change or undo all of the progress stemming from the Paris Agreement that brought all nations together to undertake ambitious efforts to combat climate change and adapt to its effects. However ambitious, no president can repeal final regulations with a simple order. Creating, modifying or repealing regulations requires an extensive public, government agency and court review process that takes months or even years.

You can be sure Trump administration decisions that violate the Clean Air Act will be challenged in court, and millions of Americans who support a U.S. and international climate plan will support the efforts of Clean Wisconsin and other organizations and forward-thinking states to stop Trump’s misguided policies.

The road ahead is long, and we know a desperate fossil fuel industry will continue to try to confuse and distract the public while spending hundreds of millions of dollars on lobbying, campaign contributions, misinformation and junk science. Nevertheless, Clean Wisconsin and our allies are resolute in our mission to protect Wisconsin’s clean water, clean air and natural heritage, and we’ll keep working for a cleaner, healthier, more prosperous future.

Mark Redsten is president and CEO of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s oldest and largest environmental organization.

This column was originally published by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Categories: Environment, Op-Ed, Politics

One thought on “Op Ed: Trump’s Energy Order Will Hurt State”

  1. David Ciepluch says:

    Mark – your consumer potential savings is dramatically understated. For an example, there are about 2 million residential consumers in Wisconsin. If each changed out an incandescent lamp with a high efficiency LED lamp, they would save $1 per month or $2 million for all of them. Change out five and they would save $120 million annually, and add in commercial customers that this savings would more than triple.

    Wisconsin consumers have the potential to reduce fossil fuel consumption by more than 50% over a few decades of time, and save $7 Billion annually. This was researched about a decade ago by the Energy Center of Wisconsin and ignored by Republicans that took control of government in 2010. A maximum effort of comprehensive renovation of all building stock in Wisconsin with energy efficiency, solar electric, and thermal mass storage on time of use rates would accomplish this goal, and maximize use of local sourced materials. This would create thousands of labor jobs.

    For stimulating this approach, the state-wide utility funded Focus on Energy programs should be tripled with an emphasis on buildings and comprehensive renovation. Add a carbon tax on fossil fuels with funds applied in the form of tax credits for renovation, and improving roads, mass transit systems, and recreation biking walking trails. Exempt all labor and local sourced materials from Wisconsin’s sales tax.

    We lack political will in Wisconsin as they respond to protecting the status quo of utilities and energy companies that want to maintain their market share and control over generation of energy.

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