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Official visits to push Clean Energy Jobs Act

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JAMES P. LEUTE
January 16, 2010
— While most everyone agrees growth in Wisconsin's green economy is good, the early debate tied to new legislation is centered on jobs and costs.

Gov. Jim Doyle says the recently launched Clean Energy Jobs Act will create 15,000 green jobs in Wisconsin by 2025.


Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business lobby, says an alternative study suggests the bill will cost the state 43,000 jobs.


Commerce Secretary Dick Leinenkugel was in Janesville on Friday promoting the legislation that implements recommendations of Doyle's Global Warming Task Force to address climate change and grow the state's green economy.


He toured Universal Recycling Technologies, a waste recycler that has expanded dramatically since its founding in 2003.


The new bill mandates increases in the state's use of renewable energy sources so more energy dollars stay in the state. It also focuses on energy efficiency and conservation efforts.


Proponents say the bill would directly create at least 15,000 green jobs by 2025. More than 1,800 jobs would be created in the first year alone. Between 800 and 1,800 construction jobs would be created each year from 2011-2025, and more than 2,000 manufacturing jobs would be created once the laws are fully implemented, they say.


WMC has joined 22 other business groups in opposition.


They say the bill would result in the loss of 43,093 private-sector jobs and cut annual wages by $1.6 billion, with disposable income falling by $1,012 per capita. In addition, the renewable energy mandate would result in a $16 billion increase in energy bills to fund a 25 percent renewable mandate, they say.


Opponents also say the bill's adoption of California emission standards would increase the cost of each new car sold in Wisconsin by $968.


"I'm not ready to say that's going to be the case," Leinenkugel said Friday. "We have an extremely innovative business community in Wisconsin. This is so important to our future, both as a state and as a nation, that we can't afford to look back.


"We have to look forward."


Leinenkugel said the government's responsibility is to set standards. Smart Wisconsin businesses, he said, will focus on energy conservation to reduce their costs.


Still, he recognizes there are differences of opinion.


"To have the debate is healthy," he said. "Ultimately, my belief is that we can all be winners in this."


With record job losses and unemployment in the state, now is not the time, WMC said.


"We need to reverse the current trend and find a way to bring family-supporting manufacturing jobs back to our state," Scott Manley, WMC's director of environmental policy, said in a press release. "Hitting Wisconsin's economy with the expensive new energy regulations will significantly increase our cost of electricity and kill jobs while doing nothing to address global warming.


"Lawmakers must understand that increasing the cost of energy for Wisconsin families and employers is a recipe for further job loss."


Dan Cunningham, Forward Janesville's vice president of government relations, said the organization likely would formalize its position on the legislation next week.


"But at the outset, we're concerned about a number of provisions in the bill," he said.



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