Clean Energy Jobs Act would help reduce Wisconsin’s rising reliance on fossil fuels

MADISON — As Wisconsin legislators debate the Clean Energy Jobs Act in the Capitol, new data shows that the state is currently heading in the wrong direction by increasing its consumption of coal, even as the nation’s consumption falls.

“The $16 billion river of dirty fossil fuels flowing into our state is getting deeper,” said Peter Taglia, staff scientist at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “Coal is the dirtiest source of power production, and, with no fossil fuel reserves of our own, we create significant environmental and economic harm to our state by relying on coal to meet our energy needs.”

Wisconsin increased its consumption of coal for power production by 1.1 percent between November 2008 and November 2009, even as the nation’s consumption of coal dropped 9.3 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s February 2010 “Electric Power Monthly.” This increase is directly attributable to Wisconsin’s recent construction of three new coal plants which cost nearly $3 billion in construction costs alone.

“Wisconsin’s increase in coal consumption highlights the need to maintain strong renewable energy standards and energy efficiency provisions in the Clean Energy Jobs Act,” said Taglia. “By reducing our energy use and transitioning toward clean energy we can keep money flowing in Wisconsin’s economy, create jobs, become more energy independent and reduce pollution.”

Wisconsin’s consumption of coal rose even as major coal-producing states such as Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia lowered their use of coal.

“Reducing our use of coal will foster greater energy independence and keep money in the pockets of hard-working Wisconsinites,” said Taglia. “It’s time for Wisconsin legislators to invest in our own economy by passing the Clean Energy Jobs Act to move our state away from fossil fuels and toward clean, homegrown energy.”