Repower America and rebuild Wisconsin’s economy

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Dan Kohler & Rep. Andy Jorgensen
Friday, December 26, 2008
“We have the opportunity now to create jobs all across this country in all 50 states to repower America, to redesign how we use energy and think about how we are increasing efficiency to make our economy stronger, make us more safe, reduce our dependence on foreign oil and make us competitive for decades to come—even as we save the planet.”
--U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, Dec. 8

We couldn’t agree more. Our slumping economy is taking its toll, leaving all of us with a sense of anxiety about the future. But we have a tremendous opportunity to rebuild our economy across the country and here in Wisconsin, and to do it on a solid foundation.

President-elect Obama and the new Congress should enact a green economic recovery plan that makes critical investments in clean energy and green infrastructure to help rebuild the American economy, protect our environment and make us more energy independent.

When it comes to clean energy, the Badger State has a unique combination of assets that can help us capitalize on such a plan and lead the way into the new energy future. We have vast renewable energy potential from wind and solar power, the research laboratories to develop new energy technologies, the manufacturing base to build them, and the farms to grow the next generation of fuels.

We are already on the right track. In 2006, the state adopted a Wisconsin Environment-backed bill to get 10 percent of our energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar power, while using it more wisely. As a result, each year we are saving close to $200 million in reduced energy costs, while saving the amount of energy from 4 million barrels of oil.

And we have only scratched the surface. The American Wind Energy Association ranks Wisconsin as a top-20 state for potential to harness power from the wind. Wisconsin farms lead the nation with our efforts to create energy from animal waste, with no shortage of manure in site. And a University of Massachusetts study found that a $100 billion federal investment in clean energy infrastructure would create 2 million jobs, with 37,165 here in Wisconsin.

Gov. Jim Doyle recently testified to Congress that Wisconsin is ready to go with close to $1 billion in shovel-ready projects that promote clean energy. The federal stimulus package should fully fund the use of these smart, targeted investment dollars. In addition, the next Legislature should prioritize policies that build on our clean energy successes, create good jobs and position Wisconsin as a leader in the clean energy economy.

We look forward to working with federal and state leaders who recognize this clean energy opportunity.

Andy Jorgensen represents the 37th District in the state Assembly and chairs the Assembly Committee on Renewable Energy and Rural Affairs. He can be reached at (608) 266-3790 or by e-mail at rep.Jorgensen@legis.Wisconsin.gov. Dan Kohler is director of Wisconsin Environment; Web site www.WisconsinEnvironment.org; phone (608) 251-1918; address 122 State St., Suite 310, Madison, WI 53704.

Last updated: 10:00 am Monday, December 17, 2012

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