Wisconsin defends its harmful addiction to coal energy

English: Greenchoice is a renewable-energy sup...
English: Greenchoice is a renewable-energy supplier in the Netherlands. (Photo credit: Koen Meijer, CC, some rights reserved via Wikipedia)

Wisconsin is “on track to reduce the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide  by 22%” from the 2005 level by the year 2020, according to Thomas Content of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  But it seems that the DNR and the Public Service Commission have sent a letter to the EPA challenging the Obama administration’s legal basis for any new rules for existing power plants, worrying that a significant mandatory cut in C02 emissions will harm the ability of the state’s energy corporations to provide “affordable” power to Wisconsin.

The letter, says Content, also defends our reliance on coal energy for more than 50% of our power, and the state is asking for flexibility to meet any new standards. That coal power is not really as cheap as it seems once we factor in all the environmental and health damage of  mining and burning coal is, as usual, ignored by the state and other promoters of coal.

Meanwhile, 15 other states have already achieved 20% reductions in C02 since 2005 and have sent a joint petition to the  EPA asking for a further mandated cut of 17% in power plant carbon emissions. According to Bloomberg.com, the states’ letter to the EPA noted that “Our state programs are delivering major economic and health benefits by reducing carbon pollution and traditional pollutants while driving investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy.”

Content reports on a World Resources Institute study that claims Wisconsin could cut carbon emissions by 43% by 2020 from 2011 emission levels just by, among other things, increasing renewable energy production by 1% per year beyond 2015, continuing the Focus On Energy program and increasing the use of the state’s most efficient gas plants to 75% of generating capacity. (Why, by the way, are we running our best gas plants so far below what they are capable of producing?)

As Content points out, the WRI study does not discuss the cost of such CO2 cuts, and no doubt the coal lobby and our investor-owned power utilities and other business interests (and, apparently, Gov. Walker’s Wisconsin) are prepared to make sure that the true price of coal power is not made clear in any comparison of the costs of energy production, including reducing harmful C02 and producing more job-creating renewable energy.

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