Environmental victories of 2008 will help protect Wisconsin’s environment, health and way of life for generations

MADISON — This New Year Wisconsin residents can look back and proudly celebrate 2008, a year that will go down in history as one of unprecedented environmental victories.

“This New Year, we can all raise a toast in celebration of this year’s amazing environmental progress in Wisconsin,” said Mark Redsten, executive director of Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “The immense progress made in 2008 builds an environmental legacy that will help protect Wisconsin’s environment, the health of our residents, and a way of life for generations to come.”

Notable environmental victories of 2008 include:

  • State and Federal Passage of the Great Lakes Compact: This long-negotiated historic agreement between eight Great Lakes States and two Canadian Provinces not to divert water outside the Great Lakes Basin became effective in 2008 after passing Wisconsin’s legislature and being ratified by the federal government. The Compact protects one of the World’s most magnificent natural resources, the Great Lakes, both by ensuring their water remains in the basin and by developing a framework for Great Lakes States and Provinces to work as one to restore and protect these natural wonders.
  • Passage of a Strong Mercury Reduction Rule: After nearly a decade of diligent work, Wisconsin passed a strong mercury rule in 2008 that will require 90 percent reductions in toxic mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants by 2015, or by the same amount by 2021 if they agree to more stringent standards on pollutants that cause dangerous soot and smog in the atmosphere. By reducing the toxic mercury pollution in our lakes, rivers and streams, this rule will help protect the health of Wisconsinites, especially children who are most vulnerable to the effects of mercury, and help preserve our state’s strong and celebrated fishing tradition.
  • The First Rejection of a Dirty, Conventional Coal Plant in State History: The Wisconsin Public Service Commission rejected Alliant Energy’s proposal to build another conventional coal plant, the dirtiest source of power production in November. This vote marked the first time in state history a proposal to build a conventional coal plant has been rejected, and provides the foundation for building a clean energy economy in the state.
  • Passage of Strong Recommendations in the Governor’s Global Warming Task Force: At the request of Governor Doyle, a broad spectrum of stakeholders convened, researched, compromised and voted overwhelmingly in favor of strong recommendations that will help guide Wisconsin in the transition to a clean energy economy. These recommendations include a three to four fold increase in Wisconsin’s investment in energy efficiency; a renewable portfolio standard requiring utilities to produce 10 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2013 and 25 percent by 2025; a 75 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2050; and the implementation of a clean cars standard. Taken together, these recommendations provide a framework for Wisconsin to create jobs and clean our environment by becoming a leader in the reducing global warming pollution.

“The extraordinary environmental victories of 2008 will not only help to preserve Wisconsin’s clean air and clean water for generations to come, but also blaze a path toward a clean energy future,” Redsten said. “We now look forward to building on the environmental momentum of 2008 and seizing the opportunity to build our economy by cleaning our environment in 2009.”