Climate change is already wreaking havoc in communities across the United States. Both President Biden and Governor Evers have made commitments to take action and meet the commitments of the Paris Accord. According to the Governor’s task force on climate change, we should avoid new fossil fuel infrastructure. Any new infrastructure would lock us into that fossil fuel for years to come, setting us back from preventing even more catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. We cannot make meaningful progress on climate change if we continue using fossil fuels. Why go back to fossil fuels when there are already cheaper and cleaner alternatives?
Retire All Coal Plants
Coal harms our health, pollutes our environment, and hurts our economy. Over 1.2 million people in the state live within 12 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Coal-fired power plants generate
massive amounts of air pollution, and produce toxic substances. Coal-fired power plants produce 42 percent of the country’s mercury pollution. The byproduct of coal burning, coal ash, can seep into groundwater, impacting our lakes, rivers and drinking water. Coal releases the majority of the electricity sector’s CO2 into the atmosphere, generating 65 percent of the sector’s emissions. Finally, coal costs us a lot of money. In fact, in 75 percent of cases, renewable energy is cheaper than coal.
Stop Any New Gas Infrastructure
“Natural gas”, an industry term, is often touted as a cleaner alternative to coal, or a ‘transition’ to renewable energy. In reality, this is all marketing to hide the fact that gas is just another fossil fuel. Not only does it pollute the air, it also requires more fracking, which involves extracting gas by constructing pipelines and blasting underground rock formations, releasing cancer-causing chemicals into our atmosphere and water supply. While fracking doesn’t occur in Wisconsin, frac sand mining does. Frac sand is used in the fracking process.
Stop New Tar Sands Pipelines and Remove Existing Interstate Pipelines
Tar sands oil is a type of sludge-like crude oil that must be mined and then treated with harsh chemicals before it can be transported to states via pipelines. These are more expensive and destructive than conventional oil, and also emit 22% more CO2. These pipelines are also extremely prone to spills, which are 15 times costlier to clean up compared to conventional oil spills.
Address Energy Burden, Environmental Injustice and Unfair Utility Rates
Low-income, Black and Brown communities are often disproportionately affected by fossil fuels. Fixed-rate energy pricing, energy inefficient housing, historic impacts of redlining, and low income jobs result in Black and Latinx households in Milwaukee paying a much larger proportion of their income to utility and energy bills than white households. Unfair rate design like high fixed fees result in low income people and low energy users paying disproportionately high energy costs across the state. Low-income neighborhoods are also more likely to be close to fossil fuel plants, and therefore experience the worst of the air pollution and health effects of those carbon emissions.
Build Clean Energy
There are cheaper, cleaner alternatives to fossil fuels. Wisconsin lacks its own fossil fuels, so we actually spend $14.4 billion dollars importing them from other states and countries. Renewable energy such as solar and wind release no carbon emissions, can be home-grown, and are therefore better not only for the environment, but also for our health. They also save billions of gallons of water annually, as they do not require water to generate fuel. Contrary to popular belief, they are actually more reliable than fossil fuels, and are less susceptible to catastrophic failures and power outages such as the Texas power outage in February of 2021.