Business leaders, environmental groups, and concerned citizens turned out at the Capitol Tuesday, for the first chance to provide public testimony on a proposed Clean Energy Jobs bill.
The measure would set new energy standards for the state and seeks to reduce carbon emissions. State Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel says efforts to have 25-percent of Wisconsin’s energy come from renewable sources by 2025 would save billions of dollars. He says Wisconsin currently generates very little of the power it needs, forcing us to rely on outside coal and oil.
However, Edward Wilusz with the Wisconsin Paper Council says the bill could dramatically increase their energy costs, forcing paper mills to consider cutting jobs or moving somewhere else. He says businesses fear standards much stricter than anything in neighboring states or on the federal level would dwarf the benefits of the measure.
Erin Roth of the Wisconsin Petroleum Marketers Association says proposed carbon emissions standards could also increase prices at the pump, by creating the need for special types of fuel. He pointed to a national study during his testimony that estimated prices at the pump could rise by up to 61-percent if specialized “boutique” fuels are needed.
Roth also warned that the proposed standards could limit the ability to use the types of crude oil found in Canada or Mexico, forcing Wisconsin to send its money farther away to the Middle East.
Supporters contend the legislation will save money in the long run by reducing energy demand and leading to more conservation. They also argue the measure will create more jobs in renewable energy fields, and the gains would far outweigh what could be lost in other areas.
Lawmakers are expected to continue hearings on the bill in the coming weeks.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:07)