The Legislature needs to remove a provision of the Clean Energy Jobs Bill that lets California set Wisconsin vehicle emissions standards.
Adopting a recommendation from Gov. Jim Doyle’s global warming task force, Assembly Bill 649 would require the state to generate vehicle emissions regulations that are “identical” to those in the California Code of Regulations.
“Why would Wisconsin want to give up its sovereignty to another state on this issue?” asked Bill Sepic, president of the Wisconsin Automobile & Truck Dealers Association, during a visit to the Green Bay Press-Gazette recently.
California has traditionally had the toughest emissions standards in the country, and the governor’s task force concluded that the national Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard was not tough enough to achieve Wisconsin’s targets for greenhouse gas emissions.
But, Sepic points out, the task force submitted its report and recommendations in July 2008. Last spring the Obama administration announced a national program aimed at reducing carbon emissions and increasing fuel economy. He argues that following the new standards would make more sense.
California, for example, restricts sales of flex-fuel vehicles that run on E85, a gasoline that is 15 percent ethanol. Adopting those standards would be a blow to the Wisconsin ethanol industry, Sepic said.
Even state Rep. Jim Soletski, D-Green Bay, one of the lead sponsors of AB 649, said there’s a 50-50 chance that the bill will be revised to remove the California connection during the “sifting and winnowing” process that accompanies deliberations.
A dozen or more states have adopted California standards, although Sepic had pointed out that none of those states are in the Midwest. Soletski agreed that a national program would be preferable to the California mandate that the task force developed.
“I’m not one who relishes putting something in (a bill) that’s going to be covered somewhere else,” Soletski said Wednesday.
In the frenetic atmosphere that accompanies the closing weeks of a legislative session, the best intentions sometimes get lost. It’s not enough to say the chances are even that the California provisions will be removed from the bill. Lawmakers need to make a firm commitment to replace that language with adherence to a national standard.
The California state government has regulated itself into such disarray that lawmakers have proposed remedies from legalizing and taxing marijuana to auctioning surplus state vehicles enhanced with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s autograph. That’s not a model that any self-respecting Midwestern state needs.
Green Bay Press-Gazette. Feb. 11, 2010.
Asian carp planning is promising but falls short of best solution
The $78.5 million assault against the invasion of the Asian carp into the Great Lakes, announced recently by the Obama administration, is welcome news, even though it falls short of the best solution.
It appears the administration realizes, as we all do in Great Lakes states, that failure to keep the voracious eaters out of the lakes is not an option. That’s a good starting point.
Federal environmental officials are stopping short, however, of closing the navigational locks and gates in the Chicago area that may provide an opening for the giant carp, which scientists say could devastate the $7 billion Great Lakes fishing industry.
Michigan filed suit to have the locks closed, but was rejected by the Supreme Court. The decision is under appeal, and Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle and governors from three other Great Lakes states support the legal effort.
In the meantime, the new administration plan includes a series of 25 short and long-term steps designed to halt the invaders, including opening the locks less frequently. Other measures include: $10.5 million to build a third electric barrier in the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, a crucial link with Lake Michigan; $13.2 million for construction of barriers to prevent the carp from bypassing the electric barriers; $9.5 million to promote commercial fishing of carp and to study other control measures, including chemicals to kill carp or prevent them from spawning.
Closing the locks in the Chicago area remains the best strategy. If the courts say that can’t happen, the new measures are encouraging and display an appropriate level of commitment to solving this potentially devastating problem.
Cooperation among agencies like the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Coast Guard is essential.
Partisanship, turf battles and infighting will not help win this important war.
Herald Times Reporter. Feb. 10, 2010.