The Milton Fire Commission is meeting tonight to discuss an intergovernmental agreement that would lead to the Edgerton Fire Protection District providing coverage for the city. The city and the towns of Milton, Johnstown, Harmony and Lima then plan to hold a special meeting Tuesday, July 26, to consider accepting the agreement.
Until the end of 2021, Milton was under an agreement with the city of Janesville in which the Janesville fire chief also served as Milton’s chief. With Milton having spent more than a year looking into joining the Edgerton district, it has appointed its battalion chief to be the interim fire chief while it works on the deal and considers a referendum to build a new station.
Edgerton Fire Chief Randy Pickering told The Gazette on July 7 that he worked with the fire district's legal counsel to submit the proposed agreement to the four municipalities.
Milton Town Chair Brian Meyer said Tuesday the town’s legal counsel reviewed the IGA and made adjustments, but he would not elaborate what those changes were. The towns of Johnstown and Lima could not be reached for comment.
The goal of the agreement, Edgerton and Milton officials have said, is to save costs but keep response times as low as possible.
As drafted, it calls for at least three fire stations covering roughly 200 square miles across northeastern Rock County. The agreement would start with one station each in Milton and Edgerton.
The city of Milton is eyeing a referendum to build a second fire station near the business park in the area of Highway 59 and County M, but wording has not yet been approved. Pickering told The Gazette on July 7 there is a desire to build another station outside Edgerton in the Newville area near Lake Koshkonong to accommodate a rise in calls there and in the areas of Highwood and Mallwood drives.
Pickering said his goal with the agreement is to maintain or reduce response times to five to six minutes and no longer than eight.
On average, the Edgerton Fire Department is responding to calls in its city within five minutes 99% of the time, according to a study done by the Edgerton department. The existing Milton Fire Department is responding to 83% of its calls in the city within five minutes.
But it has become difficult to find staff, Pickering said.
“The workforce is drained. It’s hard to find anyone, particularly EMTs,” Pickering said July 7.
This story has been updated to reflect that the town of Harmony is a part of the potential agreement and the Edgerton Fire District worked with its own legal counsel on a draft of the agreement.
For most of the major carbon-polluting nations, promising to fight climate change is a lot easier than actually doing it. In the United States, President Joe Biden has learned that the hard way.
Among the 10 biggest carbon emitters, only the European Union has enacted polices close to or consistent with international goals of limiting warming to just a few more tenths of a degrees, according to scientists and experts who track climate action in countries.
But Europe, which is broiling through a record-smashing heat wave and hosting climate talks this week, also faces a short-term winter energy crunch, which could cause the continent to backtrack a tad and push other nations into longer, dirtier energy deals, experts said.
“Even if Europe meets all of its climate goals and the rest of us don’t, we all lose,” said Kate Larsen, head of international energy and climate for the research firm Rhodium Group. Emissions of heat-trapping gases don’t stop at national borders, nor does the extreme weather that’s being felt throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
“It’s a grim outlook. There’s no getting away from it, I’m afraid,” said climate scientist Bill Hare, CEO of Climate Analytics. His group joined with the New Climate Institute to create the Climate Action Tracker, which analyzes nations’ climate targets and policies compared to the goals of the 2015 Paris Agreement.
The tracker describes as “insufficient” the policies and actions of the world’s top two carbon polluters, China and the U.S., as well as Japan, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. It calls Russia and South Korea’s polices “highly insufficient,” and Iran comes in as “critically insufficient.” Hare says No. 3 emitter India “remains an enigma.”
“We are losing ground against ambitious goals” such as keeping global warming to less than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) or 1.5 Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times, said veteran international climate negotiator Nigel Purvis of Climate Advisers. The world has already warmed 1.1 degrees (2 degrees Fahrenheit) since pre-industrial times.
Seven years ago, when almost all the nations of the world were preparing for what would become the Paris climate agreement, “it was all about ambition and setting ambitious targets,” Larsen said. “Now we are transitioning into a new phase that’s really about implementation ... I don’t think the international community knows how to do implementation.”
Other nations and the United Nations can pressure countries to set goals, but enacting laws and rules is a tougher sell. While Europe has been successful with “a long history of implementing and ratcheting up existing policies,” Larsen said, that’s not the case in the United States. The U.S. is on path to cut emissions by 24% to 35% below 2005 levels by 2030, far shy of the nation’s pledge to reduce emissions by 50% to 52% in that time, according to a new analysis by Rhodium Group.
Biden is running low on options, said Larsen, a report co-author. Congress—specifically key Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia—is balking on the president’s climate-fighting legislation, and the Supreme Court curbed power plant regulations.
Congressional action “was a big window of opportunity that would have allowed us to be on track to our goal,” Larsen said. A second window is available in “the suite of federal regulations that the Biden administration plans to release.”
“These are the two big deciders of whether the U.S. will meet its target, and one we have largely failed on. So in that sense, it is a big miss because these opportunities don’t come along very often,” she said.
“The U.S. can get close” to reaching its goal, but it’s not close yet, Larsen said. Whether that happens “depends on the next three to 18 months of what the administration does.”
Other nations, particularly China, look at what the U.S. is doing to fight climate change and are reluctant to ratchet up their efforts if America isn’t doing much, Purvis and Hare said.
At the urging of activists and some Democrats, the Biden administration is considering declaring a national emergency because of climate change and using special powers to cut carbon pollution from power plants and vehicles. Calling it an emergency is not enough; what matters is the actions that follow, Purvis said.
Biden could put a moratorium on federal lands and water. He could reinstate a ban on U.S. oil exports. He could move up spending on wind and solar. But all are subject to a conservative Supreme Court.
“The big question is where can Biden go with executive orders and how convincing is that going to be to other leaders?” Hare said.
Elsewhere in the world, “the Russian energy crisis has definitely been a major setback,” Hare said. It’s a short-term problem for Europe, and it’s even loosened some of their rules, but “their long-term policy framework is very robust, and this might help them double down on alternative energy,” Larsen said.
But the panic over natural gas has other countries, specifically in Africa, jumping onto the bandwagon of liquified natural gas, which still emits carbon. The pivot to LNG has added 15% to 20% to the amount that the world uses, Hare said.
While there is a risk Europe might add infrastructure for natural gas that will be hard to abandon, it looks like the Russian invasion of Ukraine strengthened Europe’s resolve to reduce Russia’s energy influence and get off fossil fuels, Purvis said.
There are other places where weaning the world off carbon looks more possible. A new report from the International Renewable Energy Agency found the cost of electricity last year from onshore wind fell by 15%, offshore wind by 13% and solar panels by 13% compared to 2020.
Meanwhile, electric vehicle sales in America are rising, and the time when they could hit “escape velocity” and really make a difference is on the horizon, Larsen said.
Linda L. Baker
Gary D. Johnson
Lois A. Krueger
Elections officials from across the country meeting under heightened security were urged Tuesday to prepare for supply chain issues that could lead to shortages in paper used for everything from ballots to “I voted” stickers for years to come.
The summer meeting of the National Association of State Election Directors brought together nearly 200 people, including elections directors from 33 states, experts in election security, interest groups that work with elections, vendors and others.
Election security experts told the directors to be prepared for possibly years of supply chain issues affecting paper, computer hardware and other things.
The supply chain as it affects elections might not return to normal until 2026, said Ed Smith, a longtime election technology and administration veteran who chairs a federal government-industry coordinating council that works on election security issues.
The lead time to obtain election hardware is two- to three-times longer than the norm, a delay not seen since 1999 or 2000, Smith said. Costs are also higher and elections officials should be prepared for spotty and unpredictable problems due to transportation and pandemic-related shutdowns, he said.
The supply chain issues are largely sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by worldwide closures of factories and a drop in people in the workforce. They have been felt by a wide array of industries.
Elections officials preparing for the November midterm are also bracing for their own problems that could make it difficult to get paper needed to print ballots, informational inserts and other materials needed to run an election.
“Certainly, the paper supply has been the leanest it’s ever been,” said Jim Suver, co-chair of a federal election security working group that focuses on supply chain issues. The biggest crunch will start in September, when all states are working toward the same November election, he said.
Suver said that hoarding was not an issue.
“There’s not enough paper to hoard,” he said. “It is not happening.”
Elections officials were urged to order their supplies early and be prepared for shortages and delays.
The biggest risk is having an urgent request, like the need for a large number of reprints, 10 days or 15 days before an election, Suver said. It will be crucial for jurisdictions to be extremely careful in proofreading ballots so they don’t have to place reorders, Smith said.
Printing errors already have occurred during this year’s primaries. In Oregon, election workers in Clackamas County had to transfer the votes from tens of thousands of ballots that had blurry bar codes and had been rejected by ballot-counting machines. In Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, a printing company mailed thousands of ballots with the wrong ID code, which meant they couldn’t be read by scanning machines.
The three-day meeting, which also covered issues such as insider threats to running elections and how to connect with hard-to-reach communities, comes as elections officials are facing increasing threats amid false claims by former President Donald Trump and his supporters that the 2020 election was stolen.
Amy Cohen, executive director of NASED, cautioned meeting attendees to wear their name tags when at the event so that security could see they belong there, but to take them off when out and about in the city.
“Don’t advertise who you are and exactly why you’re here,” she said.
Cohen said meeting organizers coordinated with federal, state and local law enforcement for the event. The group was not live tweeting or livestreaming the event, but there was no prohibition on attendees posting about it on social media.
“Please do be thoughtful about what you post and remember that some of the people in this room are dealing with serious security concerns and we need to be respectful to keep everyone safe,” Cohen said.