As Earth Day comes around again, we remember the growing importance of addressing climate change. The good news is that we can address climate change, increase jobs and save taxpayers money with one simple solution: Put our money where our mouths are. We can and must invest in cost-saving energy efficiency measures like LED light bulbs, better air-handling systems, and other measures that pay for them.

We know that this approach works locally. After I was elected to the Dane County Board, I worked with other supervisors and staff to draw up a plan for all county buildings that cut energy costs by 18 percent and reduced greenhouse air pollution by almost 2.6 million pounds. Don’t you wish your retirement fund was making 18 percent returns on investment?

At the state level, an Energy Center of Wisconsin study estimates that investing $700 million would return a net $1.9 billion to Wisconsinites and create at least 11,000 jobs. That would help us improve from an unacceptable state ranking of 44th in the nation in job creation.

We know this approach works here in Wisconsin as our award-winning Focus on Energy program returns $2.30 for every $1 invested. Sadly, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republicans cut investment in this important program.

The cost of energy waste is substantial. In 2010, Wisconsinites spent $12.5 billion importing coal, oil and other fuels into our state. That’s an annual energy bill of over $2,000 per person and requires more than 300,000 people working at a typical $40,000 job to pay the bill. Cutting that energy bill keeps those dollars and jobs in Wisconsin.

The good news is that a recent Natural Resources Defense Council study showed that we achieve half of our pollution reduction goals with measures that actually save money, such as better lighting, better heating systems, and cleaner transportation.

McKinsey researchers found that investing $520 billion would yield more than $1.2 trillion in savings and reduce our energy demand by 23 percent, cutting more than a billion tons of CO2 and generating approximately 500,000 jobs.

The good news is that we are already starting to address this in Wisconsin. The Board of Commissioners of Public Lands lends out low-interest funds to units of government and has already saved our state millions of dollars.

Focus on Energy offers incentives that have saved Wisconsinites $2 billion since its inception and created 24,000 jobs between 2001 and 2011. If funding were expanded as recommended by the Public Service Commission, Focus on Energy could create between 11,700 and 14,600 additional jobs.

But we need to do more to address climate change in Wisconsin. Walker should support the Energy Jobs Fund and ensure we are saving all the tax money possible in our 9,000 state buildings, 3,000 schools, and other government buildings.

You can be part of the solution too.

According to the EPA, your home is the largest source of greenhouse air pollution. The solution? Caulk and weather-stripping around windows and doors can help. Focus on Energy has a great program that can help you conduct a home energy assessment and determine how you can reduce your energy bill.

State and local governments can cut their lighting costs by up to 90 percent with LED lights, helping reduce waste without cutting vital programs.

If we take these simple steps to reduce waste and pollution, we can create jobs and reduce the risks of climate change. Now we need to quit talking and start investing.

Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison, is the ranking Democrat on the Assembly Government Operations Committee and president of an energy and environmental consulting company.

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(9) comments

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg

The lightbulbs in the clouds above cartoon character's heads (depicting an 'idea') and all references to namaste' (the light within) need to be mandatory LED.

The Gotch

196ski
196ski

It's simple economics and has nothing to do with "green' subsidized anything. If it saves money to use LED lights or high efficiency motors then they are a good choice. Should you put a $45 LED light in your attic? Probably not until the costs come down, which they will.

As for the rest how about cutting the requirement for utilities to generate electricity with "green" energy and bring down the cost of electricity? Low energy costs are a key component in building the economy.

rrivoire

Only fools pay more for a product like lighting than they have to. It's like taxes. Do you add a tip on tax day? Come on "conservatives." Don't you turn the lights off in rooms when you leave them? Or do you leave them (and pay more) to spite some rich fat guy somewhere?

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg

@rrivoire;

"Only fools pay more for a product like lighting than they have to."

Rarely do we disagree on anything, so I must confess to being both troubled and burdened by the thought that your statement might be just a tad naive.

I believe MGE offers an option to 'pay more' for a product (in this case electricity) that's derived from wind or solar power. So 'fools' (which I take to mean guilt-suffocated Lefties) are given the opportunity to pay more, which I've little doubt they embrace unquestioningly.

And guilt-edged 'green pricing' certainly isn't limited to energy. Everyone concedes that 'green' items cost more because of higher production and material costs. But savvy marketers know they can charge a 'premium' over and above that which 'fools' (ever trying to siphon off that staggering Lefty guilt) will pay without batting an eyelash.

Hybrids (government helps out there), organic whatever, LEED homes, etc; the list is endless. Marketers are know that target market (fools) better than that target market knows itself. And they know that target will pay more with no other justification the 'right' (read: GREEN) purchase brings with it a certain sanctimonious smuggery; a 'warm feeling,' if you will.

Even when 'green' purchases have been shown to be more harmful than, well, green, (hybrids, windmill bird shredders, ethanol, etc.) 'fools' will still clamor for them. Could be that 'warm feeling' is an addictive, endorphin-fueled opiate that lures, I mean, gently recommends, those that are suckerd by that feel-good feeling.

Getting that 'sugar high' always leaves one wanting more. High-level thinkers seem to be the most susceptible for two reasons. First, because how could something that 'feels' so right possibly be wrong. Second, high-level-thinkers couldn't possibly be mistaken...about anything.

Even you BFF, The Gotch, has gone for the 'green!' We installed a geothermal HVAC system at great personal, financial, and existential disrupt. I'll also be planting 5 more arbor vitae (in addition to the other 5 already in) in celebration of Earth Day.

But even I know my contribution won't be complete without another bumper sticker and lapel ribbon. Any suggestions?

Also; what exactly is the 'climate denier' to which you've referred time and again?

The Gotch

rrivoire

See Ski's comment of above for rebuttal of this tripe.

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg

@rrivoire;

Not to question an anger-motivated comment, but you were aware that a rebuttal is generally supposed to 'follow' what it intends to rebut, weren't you?

The Gotch

davea

Sorry, I have to say it. Just think of all the polution we could stop by having Walker STAY in Wisconsin, and keeping his mouth shut!

Cornelius Gotchberg
Cornelius Gotchberg

When I hear anyone saying what an eco-profit (sic) Fat Albert Gore is, I recommend they ask the opinion of the residents of East Liverpool, OH.

When I hear anyone saying what an evironmental steward Brett Hulsey is, I recommend they ask the opinion of the residents of Cassville, WI.

The Gotch

bosco

How about footnoting the study that says $700 mil can save $1.9 bil. What you have is voodoo numbers subsidized by taxpayers. Brett go no more run a real business without subsidies than he could win the Masters.

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