Posts Tagged ‘Environment’

Feingold dubious on cap and trade

September 13, 2009

Feingold, in a surprising move, is voicing skepticism of the “Cap and Trade” bill moving through Congress.

“I’m not signing onto any bill that rips off Wisconsin,” Feingold declared, arguing the bill’s mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions could put the coal-dependent Badger State at an economic disadvantage compared to other regions and nations.

That position runs contrary to both his party leadership and the Obama administration, which recently dispatched Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to Saginaw, Mich., to meet with Govs. Jennifer Granholm and Jim Doyle on the energy bill. Doyle came away from the clean energy economic forum convinced that cap and trade would “put some octane, so to speak, in the green energy economy.”

Feingold, who is generally very straightforward in discussing his positions, nevertheless was “troubled” by how many of his constituents refused to accept the science behind global warming.

Although Feingold is perhaps the most effective intellectual liberal in Washington, he has always been in very close touch with his constituents and their interests. He sticks up for dairy farmers on trade deals and was a big proponent of investing in a variety of public works in Wisconsin with stimulus money. However, this position he’s taking is too provincial. If Wisconsin is overly reliant on coal, than there’s going to be a painful day when the reliance is going to be broken, and unless Feingold proposes an alternative to reduce emissions, we might have to pay more than some other states.

Also, the point of the Cap and Trade legislation is that the United States is taking a step that some other countries probably won’t. India and China are not going to take the environmental steps that we should take to reduce fuel emissions, but as members of the developed world, it is our duty to lead, especially given our awful track record environmentally vis-a-vis other first world nations.

Mayor Dave update

July 31, 2009

Mayor Dave wrote a pretty amusing response to a Rick Berg column the other day, in which he basks in the glory of showing the conservative columnist “the light.”

In the last issue of the Isthmus (you can still grab ten copies for your friends on newsstands today!), Berg grovels and begs my forgiveness for a blasphemous piece he wrote about a year ago after I returned from Freiburg, Germany. Having returned from the Mountain Top after a sister city visit there last June, I expressed my admiration for the city in general and the almost auto free Vauban neighborhood in particular. At the time, Rick wrote that I should have had another beer and left the crazy lefty-green ideas back in the Fatherland.

Hmm…was ist a guy named Cieslewicz doing calling Deutschland “das Vaterland”? In fact, this is the man who once extended his hand to Sara Mikolajczak, the former head of the College Republicans, and said “from one Pole to another.” Perhaps he is referring to Berg, who apparently is German.

Either way, Dave won on this one, not necessarily because the plan he cites is realistic in Madison, but because he made a right winger acknowledge that Europe is sometimes different for the better, rather than worse. It’s too bad Berg didn’t try to find out during his time in Germany why people all across that continent live so long despite their failure of a health care system. In wine-drinking France, in lager-chugging Britain, in vodka-guzzling Sweden – it must be something they put in the cigarettes.

Also, Dave’s post today focused on the Business Improvement District (BID), which is up for renewal today.

The BID does a lot of things for the downtown. It helps promote the area by supporting events like Maxwell Street Days, Cars on State and the Downtown Madison Holiday Open House. It produces the Downtown Madison Gift Certificate Program and the Downtown Madison Map and Guide. It does a tremendous job of fostering a welcoming environment downtown through its Information Ambassador Program – which helped nearly 28,000 downtown customers in 2008 alone – and enhancements to the area’s physical environment, dressing the downtown with flowers during the warmer months and holiday lights during our colder months.

Sounds OK, but I only want this association to go on if it’s agreed upon that the lights they put on State St are officially “Christmas lights.” That being said, even if they continue with the offensive “Holiday Lights,” Madison can still reap benefits from the blasphemy by getting prime time coverage on the O’Reilly Factor. Win-Win situation.

Also, Jason Joyce, where the hell did you weekly exegesis on Mayor Dave’s schedule go? Is this being outsourced to the Sconz or am I just incapable or searching your site?

Soap or shit? Which is worse for our lakes?

June 24, 2009

It’s good to see that another environmental cause will be advanced this legislative session, and more importantly, it’s good to hear that my health won’t be so severely threatened each time I take a dip in Lake Wingra. The algae problem has become a recurrent theme in Madison summer recreation – last summer Wingra was occassionally closed off because of it. Assembly Democrats are looking to do something about it with the introduction of new regulations on dish soap, which will limit the amount of phosphorus in the product. Phosphorus is the main ingredient in algae, at least according to one of my former writers, Zach Schuster:

Phosphorus is not capable of destroying human society via atomic fission, but it does serve as the primary nutrient in freshwater lakes. Think of it as the free pizza of the water chemistry world. Just as free pizza causes attendance at student organization meetings to flourish, phosphorus nourishes algae and causes it to grow like crazy in the lakes where it accumulates.

But dish soap isn’t the main problem.

The primary source of phosphorus in the Yahara lakes watershed is kind of a crappy subject. Literally. Phosphorus is a major component of both human and animal shit. Traditionally, both human waste, in the form of wastewater discharged into streams, and animal waste, in the form of manure spread on fields as fertilizer, were substantial sources of the phosphorus that eventually reached the lakes.

So far the Republicans have voted in favor of the plan unanimously. They proposed one amendment and have tried to get the bill delayed by suspending the rules and trying to get the bill re-read, however, all Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee have voted in favor. Furthermore the GOP gave full support to the plan in February to restrict phosphorus in fertilizers.

Recycle that plastic bag or put it over your head

June 17, 2009

Good news, the city council voted in favor of requiring Madison residents to recycle plastic bags.

Under a new program — which is tentatively scheduled to begin Sept. 1 — residents will  be required to collect and drop off clean, recyclable plastic bags at 13 designated collection sites throughout the city or at other businesses that recycle bags.

The program was OK’d by a 17-1 vote at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

Plastic bags that are considered recyclable include: grocery and retail bags, bread bags, newspaper bags, dry cleaning bags, toilet paper bags and paper towel bags. Soiled bags — such as those used to line garbage bins — cannot be recycled, Dreckman said.

Oh snap, we haven’t even talked about the penalties yet:

The penalty for not complying would be $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second and $400 for subsequent violations in a year. However, Dreckman said he did not expect citations would ever be issued for failing to recycle plastic bags.

How ironic. Set a penalty but immediately declare that it will never be applied. Isn’t that kind of like a Bush “signing statement”?

The council hasn’t gone far enough. Plastic bags should be banned at grocery stores and other retailers. Rather, stores should have to apply to get a permit to distribute them. They are a waste and an environmental disaster. The amount of litter created in the area makes this a local issue as well as a national energy affair. If localities take the lead on this issue they can pressure retailers to use paper instead of plastic, reducing billions of gallons of oil consumption, and cleaning up the environment.

Construction waste will be recycled

June 15, 2009

Well at least 50% of it will. The other half will presumably be thrown into Lake Mendota.

Brenda Konkel’s pumped about it.

Hopefully some good will come of this war zone the city of Madison has become yet again this summer. The bill before the council will mandate contractors in 2009 to recycle half of their waste, and the percentage will increase to 70% in 2010. Knowing nothing about the recycling of cement and other industrial waste, I can only say that the plan sounds awfully ambitious.