Environmentalists, business owners, farmers and labor support wind siting reform at joint hearing

MADISON — Representatives from environmental, business, farm, and labor organizations convened today in a joint legislative hearing held at the Capitol to encourage legislators to create jobs and improve outdoor air quality by passing sensible standards for permitting safe wind farms in Wisconsin.

“With all of the debate over indoor air quality and the smoking ban, it’s easy to forget that the air outside is becoming more unhealthy to breathe by the day,” said Ryan Schryver, clean energy advocate at Clean Wisconsin, the state’s largest environmental advocacy organization. “Wind energy can clean our air by reducing the need to burn dirty fossil fuels, but first we need sensible standards that permit safe wind farms.”

Wisconsin’s over-dependence on coal and other fossil fuels to produce electricity results in unhealthy outdoor air quality in the state. The American Lung Association assigned a failing grade for outdoor air quality to seventeen Wisconsin counties in its 2009 State of the Air Report.

“It’s sad when the quality of our air is so poor that air quality advisories are regularly forecast on local weather reports,” said Schryver. “Replacing dirty energy from expensive fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy from wind will help make Wisconsin a healthier place to live, work and play.”

Prospective wind developers face a cumbersome patchwork of county ordinances and local regulations designed to prevent the construction of safe wind projects. These ordinances have stalled the construction of an estimated 600 megawatts of wind power in our state – enough energy to power over a half million Wisconsin homes. Senate Bill 185/Assembly Bill 256 would create uniform state standards that permit the construction of safe wind farms.

“Wind developers stand ready to invest millions in Wisconsin’s economy, building wind farms that will clean our air and put thousands of residents to work producing renewable energy to power our homes, schools and businesses,” said Schryver. “Today environmentalists, business owners, farmers, ratepayers and laborers all joined together in urging legislators to make Wisconsin a cleaner, healthier place to live by eliminating the administrative barriers preventing the development of safe wind power in the state.”