Is there an opportunity for economic development in Wisconsin around the federal Clean Power Plan?
A Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce executive said no.
Scott Manley, vice president of governmental relations for the state's largest business trade association, said he views the tougher carbon rules introduced last week by President Barack Obama as a job killer.
In an interview broadcast Sunday on "UpFront with Mike Gousha," the host asked Manley whether Wisconsin could use the new rules on limiting emissions from power plants to bolster jobs in renewable energy fields.
The cost is too high, Manley said.
"I just saw a study this week that said that it is three times more expensive to site wind energy than to use existing coal baseload," he said. "The fact is that wind energy and solar energy are intermittent sources of energy. They can't provide the constant flow of energy that people need so that when they flip the light switch they get electricity.
"So the bottom line is this rule is going to significantly increase energy prices. And higher energy prices are not a recipe for job growth. It's a recipe for job destruction."
Some of Wisconsin's neighbors have invested heavily in energy sources other than coal. Iowa draws a quarter of its energy from wind power while Minnesota has a solar mandate to increase the power it draws from the sun.
Wisconsin is eighth in the nation in ethanol production, but coal still dominates the state's electricity generation.
The Clean Power Plan aims to cut carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. power plants 32 percent by 2030.
Wisconsin's goal is termed "moderate" by the Environmental Protection Agency, but Gov. Scott Walker slammed the new rules in a statement from his presidential campaign and directed Attorney General Brad Schimel to join other states in a lawsuit to stop implementation.
Keith Reopelle, senior policy director of environmental group Clean Wisconsin, said on the show that the goals are "reasonable and achievable."
"We see this as a really critical step to address carbon pollution, which currently there are no limits on carbon pollution from the largest sources, which are power plants," he said. "This is a critical step to address that for a lot of reasons but especially public health, to protect our children and future generations.
"But it will have an immediate impact. This will reduce asthma attacks in our children by 90,000. Over 150,000 less premature deaths as the result of this rule. So there's very tangible benefits, and Wisconsin can absolutely do this without, really in the long run, any increase in cost in our energy bills."
Manley said the idea that utility bills won't rise in the wake of the new rules "nonsense."