• CLEAN AIR • CLEAN ENERGY
Spring 2010 • Vol. 40, No. 2
40 Years of Clean Wisconsin
Environmental Legacy Fund 40 YEARS LATER
Challenge to Raise $200,000 N E V E R Fa R for Endowment Fund is ON from our Roots By Brian Kelly, Associate Director
By Mark Redsten, Executive Director
Clean Wisconsin’s 40 anniversary marked an occasion both to celebrate the many victories we have achieved together, and to look forward to the many challenges and opportunities we will face over the next 40 years. To commemorate our past and build a foundation for our future work, Clean Wisconsin is announcing our goal to raise at least $400,000 for the Clean Wisconsin Environmental Legacy Fund, an endowment that will support our environmental advocacy. We are pleased to announce that we have received a lead gift of $100,000 from our founder, Doug La Follette, and the Madison Community Foundation has issued a challenge for the remainder: If we raise an additional $200,000, they will contribute $100,000 to our endowment fund. With these two annoucements, Clean Wisconsin is poised to move to a new level of financial security. “When Peter Anderson and I started this organization, we called it Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade. Working together with folks like Kathleen Falk and Spencer Black, and with help from many of you out there, we made great advances in that first decade,” says La Follette, who has seen the organization rise to many challenges over the last four decades. “We achieved several important victories that are the foundation of the environmental protections we are building on today. But over the past four decades, we learned that protecting Wisconsin’s environment is not a 10-year project. It is not a project for one generation. It is something that must be sustained. We did not do this for ourselves; we did this to protect the future. That is why I am donating $100,000 to Clean Wisconsin’s Environmental Legacy Fund: to help them educate our current and future leaders, to ensure this fight continues. I hope you will join me in meeting this challenge.” Kathleen Woit, President of Madison Community Foundation, echoed Doug’s thoughts. “The Madison
Recently celebrating Clean Wisconsin’s 40th anniversary provided the opportunity to pause and reflect upon the rich history of our organization, as well as look forward to finding better solutions to address new environmental challenges. Working with a staff of over 20 professionals in a bustling office environment, it is easy to forget that the roots of our organization are anchored in just two individuals — Doug La Follette and Peter Anderson — who recognized the growing number of threats Wisconsin’s beautiful environment faced at the beginning of the 1970s. Feeling that the 1970s would be the decade of environmental reform, they founded Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade in 1970 and went about the work of protecting Wisconsin’s environment. It was not uncommon to see Anderson sleeping in the state Capitol building when they lacked the funds to purchase office space in Madison.
(articles continued on page 6) Clean Wisconsin 122 State Street, Suite 200 Madison, WI 53703-2500
Nonprofit Org U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 1291 Madison, WI
INSIDE Taking Charge and Taking Action. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Enviro-SCRAMBLE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Clean Wisconsin Legislative Agenda. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Wisconsin Loves Energy Efficiency. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Waukesha’s Diversion Application. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Healthy Eating to Restore Wisconsin’s Waters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Looking Back at Clean Wisconsin’s Legal Activism . . . . . . . . . . . 5 40 Years of Clean Wisconsin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6-7 Our Visions for 2050 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Bullish on Biogas, Profile of Legislative Leadership . . . . . . . . . . 8 40th Anniversary Sponsors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Ask David. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Scenes from Clean Wisconsin’s 40th Anniversary . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Taking Charge &
Actions you can take for clean water, clean air and clean energy
Give us your e-mail address Clean Wisconsin is your environmental voice, but we need you to be involved! While we certainly need your financial support, we also need you to support our work with your actions! The quickest, most affordable way for us to contact you when we need your help is via e-mail. Please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your e-mail address and join our Action Network. Be part of our winning team!
Help Us Fight Old, Inefficient Coal-Fired Plants We’re turning up the heat in our fight against old, inefficient coal-fired power plants and we are looking for citizens across the state who’d like to get involved. If you’re interested, please contact Becky at email@example.com or 608-212-2936.
Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act Please contact your federal legislators to co-sponsor the Great Lakes Ecosystem Protection Act. This important bipartisan legislation: • permanently establishes the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (the financial investment in Great Lakes Restoration); • increases coordination between federal agencies by establishing the federal Great Lakes Interagency Task Force and between federal agencies and non-federal stakeholders through a new multi-stakeholder management board; and • reauthorize both the Great Lakes Legacy Act and Great Lakes National Program Office to ensure EPA has the administration to support its expanded responsibility to coordinate Great Lakes restoration efforts.
Use GoodSearch to help Clean Wisconsin With a few simple clicks, you can help Clean Wisconsin by using GoodSearch. GoodSearch is a search engine that donates 50 percent of its revenue to the charities and schools designated by its users. You use GoodSearch exactly as you would any other search engine (like Google), and because it’s powered by Yahoo!, you get proven search results. The money GoodSearch donates comes from its advertisers; the users and the organizations do not spend a dime! This comes to about one cent for every search.
122 State Street, Suite 200 • Madison WI 53703-4333 Phone: 608-251-7020 • Fax: 608-251-1655 www.CleanWisconsin.org Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization, protects Wisconsin’s clean water and air and advocates for clean energy by being an effective voice in the state legislature and by holding elected officals and polluters accountable. Founded in 1970 as Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade, Clean Wisconsin exposes corporate polluters, makes sure exisiting environmental laws are enforced, and educates citizens and businesses. On behalf of its 10,000 members and its coalition partners, Clean Wisconsin protects the special places that make Wisconsin such a wonderful place to live, work and play.
STAFF Executive Director Mark Redsten Associate Director Brian Kelly Senior Policy Director Keith Reopelle Program Director Amber Meyer Smith Energy Program Director Katie Nekola Water Program Director Melissa Malott Staff Scientist Peter Taglia Grassroots Organizer Ryan Schryver Water Resources Specialist Ezra Meyer Media Specialists Sam Weis Amanda Wegner Global Warming Program Associate Sarah Shanahan
Simply go to www.goodsearch.com, then set Clean Wisconsin as your selected organization by typing in our name under “Who Do you Search For?” and click “verify.” Then set GoodSearch as your home page to help Clean Wisconsin any time you do an Internet search!
Clean Energy Specialist Katy Walter
Like to shop? Now your purchases can help Clean Wisconsin, too. Download the GoodSearch toolbar at www.goodsearch.com/toolbar/clean-wisconsin. With this toolbar, GoodSearch will make a donation to Clean Wisconsin each time you shop online at prominent national retail sites, plus Amazon and eBay.
RE-AMP Coordinator Elizabeth Wheeler
Energy Efficiency Coordinator Diane Farsetta
RE-AMP Program Assistant Elizabeth Edelstein
Enviro-SCRAMBLE by Clean Wisconsin staff
Unscramble each of the six scrambled words below, filling each space with one letter. Then unscramble the enclosed letters to answer the riddle below.
OEHERGSNEU CAIQTAU ROSEECRU TRYALEI GIPSNR
__ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __ __
What price did the traveler pay for a one-way ticket? The “__ __ __ __ __” __ __ __ __. CLUES: greenhouse, aquatic, resource, reality, spring
ANSWER: “going rate”
The Defender is owned and published quarterly by Clean Wisconsin, 122 State Street, Suite 200, Madison, Wisconsin 53703, 608-251-7020. Founded in 1970, Clean Wisconsin is a statewide, nonprofit environmental advocacy organization. A one-year subscription membership is $30. Please direct correspondence to the address above. Volume 40, No. 2 Issue date: April 2010 ©2010 Clean Wisconsin. All rights reserved. Printed with soy ink on unbleached, recycled paper. ISSN # 1549-8107
Membership & Development Manager Becky Bains Development Assistant Allie Theuerkauf Chief Financial Officer Roger Sneath Accounting Manager Mary Coughlan Office Administrator David Vitse
BOARD Carl Sinderbrand – Chair (Madison) Margi Kindig – Vice Chair (Madison) Gof Thomson – Treasurer (New Glarus) Gary Goyke – Secretary (Madison) Sue Durst (Verona) Shari Eggleson (Washburn) Paul Linzmeyer (Green Bay) Lucia Petrie (Milwaukee) David Wandel (Madison) Luke Fairborn (Whitefish Bay) Scott Froehlke (Montello) Chuck McGinnis (Middleton) Kate Gordon – Board Emeritus (Washington, D.C.)
2 The Defender, Spring 2010, Vol. 40, No. 2
Legislative agenda The latest developments on environmental priorities Success! Success! Success! Success! Success! Success!
Clean Wisconsin supported bills already signed into law this session: Act 9, limiting the amount of phosphorus in lawn fertilizer Act 40, promoting the use of wind as a renewable energy resource for Wisconsin Act 44, limiting the sale of products that contain mercury Act 50, increasing recycling options for electronic waste Act 63, limiting the amount of phosphorus in automatic dishwashing detergent Act 145, BPA Free Kids Act
Our work in Progress The legislative session is scheduled to end on Earth Day, April 22. At the time of this writing, there are still several important issues left for the Legislature to address before they adjourn.
Reducing Global Warming Clean Energy Jobs Act
As of this writing, amendments were being drafted to the Clean Energy Jobs Act. We are hopeful that a final product will still advance Wisconsin’s transition to a clean energy economy. Five public hearings were held in January and February, and support for the bill was very strong, with businesses supporting the bill by a 3-to-1 margin. This bill could represent a strong move forward in getting more renewable energy and energy efficient investments in Wisconsin if legislators stand up to the special interest lobbyists. We will continue to keep you informed on the progress of this important legislation as the session ends.
Taking the next steps to protect our precious resource Also pending in the last days of the legislative session is the Groundwater Protection Act which seeks to protect water resources for all Wisconsinites. Current laws don’t adequately protect our precious groundwater resources from overpumping, and revisions to these policies are needed. Legislators are still working diligently on details that will ensure that the bill will ultimately protect water use for all users – industrial, recreational, municipal, and agricultural. We hope this compromise will reflect the need to prevent current groundwater quantity issues from drying up lakes, rivers and streams in the future.
Recycling Mercury Thermostats and CFLs Senate Bill 629 was introduced by Senator Bob Jauch in March. The bill will ensure that compact fluorescent lightbulbs that contain trace amounts of mercury will be properly recycled. The bill calls for convenient recycling drop-off sites, and makes manufacturers responsible for collecting 70% of the product they put into the marketplace. Remember, although CFLs do contain small amounts of mercury, they still are a net reducer of mercury into the environment. Because they reduce the need for power plant production, they reduce the amount of harmful mercury emitted by smokestacks — the source of most mercury into our air, water and ground. SB 629 had a public hearing before the Senate Environment Committee in March, which will lay the groundwork for enacting a law in the next legislative session.
Illustration of the Clean Energy Jobs Act’s progress as of April 15, 2010
Wisconsin What do a middle school in Osceola, a Stevens Point church and communities throughout the Driftless Region have in common? They’re all investing in — and benefiting from — energy efficiency. Energy efficiency is the ultimate win-win situation. Adding insulation, sealing leaks or upgrading lights, for example, makes buildings more comfortable while lowering energy bills. These changes and upgrades tackle global warming, as buildings account for more than 40 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. It’s also an economic development tool. Energy efficiency reduces spending on imported dirty energy while creating jobs that can’t be outsourced. The Energy Center of Wisconsin estimates that investing $300 million in energy efficiency statewide would reduce energy costs by $900 million a year and support 7,000 to 9,000 local jobs. The data’s clear, as are the success stories from around the state. When Clean Wisconsin started contacting local communities to ask about their energy efficiency efforts, the responses came pouring in. The Osceola school district is saving taxpayers $32,500 a year, after adding solar panels and thermal blankets to the middle school pool complex. Not only did the energy efficiency work decrease pool energy use by a remarkable 96 percent, it also greatly reduced evaporation. This unexpected benefit saves 20,000 gallons of water a month. In Stevens Point, Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church shaved $800 per year off its energy bills, roughly ten percent of its annual energy costs. Even though the striking 115-year-old building has multiple attic spaces, high ceilings and old brick walls, minor energy efficiency projects had a real impact. In Southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless Region, the E3 Coalition, comprised of local energy planners and consultants, is working with two counties and eight local communities to develop an energy independence plan. It’s the largest collaboration to take part in the state’s Energy Independent Communities program. Energy efficiency will be a major component of the plan, which has as its ultimate goal of sourcing 25 percent of electricity, heating and transportation fuels from renewable resources by 2025. Clean Wisconsin is working with these and other communities throughout the state to support and promote their energy efficiency efforts. Each success is an opportunity to educate and inspire others to explore how energy efficiency can benefit their community.
Energy Efficiency By Diane Farsetta, Energy Efficiency Coordinator
Frame Memorial Presbyterian Church, Stevens Point Annual savings with energy efficiency:
Clean Wisconsin is working with these and other communities throughout the state to support and promote their energy efficiency efforts. Each success is an opportunity to educate and inspire others to explore how energy efficiency can benefit their community.
Diversion Application By Melissa Malott, Water Program Director
When George Washington took the U.S. presidency, he wrote, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.” It was a time of great uncertainty for our country. In fact, when Washington needed high-risk surgery to remove a tumor in his leg, then-Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson worried that if Washington died, his death would sink the country. Fortunately, Washington survived and started building our country as Congress established our beginning laws. This story brings to mind the difficulties of creating a system, essentially from scratch, with only overarching principles to provide guidance. In some ways, Wisconsin stands on a similar precipice. In December 2008, the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (Compact) went into effect, after each Great Lakes state adopted it, Congress consented, and then-President Bush signed it. Since then, Wisconsin has been working to obtain staff to start implementing the Compact, including collecting necessary information and drafting the rules necessary to comply with the Compact to protect the Great Lakes. The following are some of the c o n t i n ed o n p a g e 5
PHOTO: Claudia Castro/flickr.com
4 The Defender, Spring 2010, Vol. 40, No. 2
Healthy Eating to
R es t o re Wisconsin’s W a t ers By Melissa Malott, Water Program Director
We need to move our agricultural industry to be sustainable, both for our personal health and clean water. Every day we wait, our water problems get worse and more expensive to recover from. You can help us protect our waterways by purchasing food from sustainable farms.
Setting the Standard Looking Back at Clean Wisconsin’s Legal Activism By Rich Hankison, Clean Wisconsin Legal Intern
As any environmentalist will tell you, the task of effectively advocating on behalf of Wisconsin’s air and water quality requires a comprehensive set of tools — including a strong presence in the courtroom. Today, Clean Wisconsin participates in important legal decisions to ensure our state takes a hard look at our energy, transportation and agricultural needs. We continually strive for statewide solutions that work constructively with our environmental realities. Our rich legal history has lead Clean Wisconsin to be a distinguished, active participant in many significant environmental decisions and a driving influence on the state’s legal landscape. It is characteristic of an underdog, nonprofit organization to claim their history began with a tumultuous start. This is not the case for Clean Wisconsin’s legal activism. In 1973, the Wisconsin Supreme Court returned a decision recognizing Clean Wisconsin’s judicial standing. This recognition effectively gave Clean Wisconsin the judicial tool we have diligently employed for four decades. In 1977 the case reappeared in Wisconsin Supreme Court. Clean Wisconsin argued that the Public Service Commission (PSC) failed to look at options to their natural gas regulations. The case was eventually dismissed as the PSC had replaced the regulation in question. However, the merits of the case set an important legal precedent. The case required the PSC to provide detailed written evaluations of all proposed significant regulation alternatives. This important procedural requirement continues to bring needed transparency to the PSC’s decision-making process. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, our legal environmental strategy began to change, as we turned to challenging agency decisions and rule-
making. However, challenging these decisions became increasingly difficult as the level of deference given to agencies by the courts grew. As a consequence, Clean Wisconsin’s lawyers focused on the proceedings which informed agency decisions. During this time, we contributed to important administrative hearings by filing briefs, gathering discovery material, submitting expert testimony and providing public comments. Clean Wisconsin’s lawyers paid particular attention to ensuring that public utilities charged reasonable prices and held responsible environmental policies. Though our legal participation largely changed venues, our work continued to ensure Wisconsin’s environmental voice influenced our industry and energy development. Our current legal activism continues to give due diligence to administrative hearings. Yet, with the help of strong coalitions, pointed environmental advancements continue to bolster our legal history. For example, in 1997, Clean Wisconsin represented the Clean Water Action Council to challenge the DNR’s approval of a contaminated sludge dump in Green Bay. Clean Wisconsin won the case, creating another strong precedent for enforcing needed protective waste management policies. In a climatic fashion, in 2008 the full extent of Clean Wisconsin’s legal activism was realized. An ongoing legal battle finalized with the cessation of an unneeded proposed coal plant. This was the first time a coal plant proposal failed in Wisconsin. With this strong history in this arena, we are excited to continue to diligently and tactfully apply our legal activism. There is no doubt that the next 40 years will hold challenges requiring both legal persuasion and creative solutions. However, if history is any indicator of the future, Clean Wisconsin, on behalf of our members, is up to the challenge.
There is no doubt that the next 40 years will hold challenges requiring both legal persuasion and creative solutions. However, if history is any indicator of the future, Clean Wisconsin, on behalf of our members, is up to the challenge. Clean Wisconsin
One of our country’s most popular writers, Michael Pollan, author of recent bestsellers The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, says that our biggest impact on the planet is how we feed ourselves. This is certainly true in Wisconsin when it comes to water quality. With few exceptions, our waters are primarily contaminated with agricultural pollution. Wells in Northeast Wisconsin are generally fouled by E. coli and nitrates from farms, an issue big enough to receive national attention when the New York Times highlighted Brown County last fall in its “Toxic Waters” series. Wisconsin’s agricultural water problems are getting worse. Between 2000 and 2005, there were 63 manure spills across the state; from 2005 to 2010, there were 165. Besides more manure spills happening across the state, cladophora problems (a sewage-like algae problem partially created by excessive phosphorus) in Lake Michigan are increasing, and the number of lakes suffocating under blue-green algae blooms grows larger each summer. These problems are often caused by an overabundance of manure being spread on too little land. Fortunately, there are manageable solutions, and it is linked to the food we buy. Sustainable farming practices are environmentally sound and protect our waterways, and there are many ways for farmers to responsibly manage manure. In managed grazing, for example, cow waste is spread throughout fields where it is converted into nutrients for plants before it can be washed off into groundwater or streams and rivers. Besides being better for clean water, managed grazing creates healthier milk and beef products that are lower in saturated fat and higher in healthy Omega-3s. Additionally, these products can generate a premium price for farmers while requiring less feed costs. This is merely one example of sustainable practices being better for clean water, our health, and good for profits. We need to encourage our agricultural industry to be sustainable, both for our personal health and for clean water. Every day we wait, our water problems get worse and more expensive to restore. You can help protect our waterways by purchasing food from sustainable farms.
Diversion Application c o n t i n ed fr o m p a g e 4
rules that need to be created in order to properly implement the Compact: • requirements for a diversion applicant to demonstrate they are properly conserving and efficiently using existing water resources, • public participation (notice, commenting, and hearing) procedures, • procedures to determine water loss The Wisconsin DNR recently held the first of a series of meetings to begin creating these rules. We are at the beginning of a process, with no precedent and only the Compact’s overarching language to guide us. We expect Waukesha soon will become the first applicant for a diversion of Great Lakes water under the Compact. Waukesha is seeking a new public water supply due to high levels of radium in its current wells and low water levels in nearby aquifers. Waukesha’s application will arrive at the DNR before required rules are in place, and it looks like the DNR will begin evaluating the application without rules. Clean Wisconsin is already reviewing Waukesha’s draft application, and has been discussing standards and procedures with the DNR. We will be paying particular attention to Waukesha’s proposed water conservation procedures, their potential alternatives to diverting Great Lakes water, and where and how they will return water to the Great Lakes.
c o n t i n ed fr o m COV E R
Community Foundation supports those that enrich and improve the environment that we live in. Our goal is to foster philanthropy and to ensure the sustainability of Dane County’s strongest non-profits. To accomplish this goal, and to support an organization that has been improving our environment for 40 years, that the Madison Community Foundation is proud to offer a $100,000 challenge grant to help Clean Wisconsin build its endowment.” It will be up to the environmental community in Wisconsin, particularly Clean Wisconsin’s dedicated members, to help us meet this unprecedented challenge. To do so will help us build our Environmental Legacy Fund to support our future environmental advocacy. This endowment fund is a secure and permanent fund that provides a percent of its value each and every year to support our work. By contributing to Clean Wisconsin’s Legacy Fund, you can ensure that our work protecting Wisconsin’s environment will continue for generations to come.
...over the past four decades, we learned that protecting Wisconsin’s environment is not a 10-year project. It is not a project for one generation. It is something that must be sustained. We did not do this for ourselves; we did this to protect the future.
If you have questions or are interested in donating to the Clean Wisconsin Legacy Fund, please call Brian Kelly at 608-251-7020 ext. 23.
NEVER FaR from our Roots c o n t i n ed fr o m COV E R
The organization achieved many victories in the early years, began to grow, soon outgrew its name, and eventually became Clean Wisconsin. Forty years after its conception, it is difficult to imagine Wisconsin’s history and environment without the work of Clean Wisconsin. With the support of our members, we have helped to defeat coal plants and dangerous mines; helped to pass laws that protect groundwater, curb acid rain, reduce toxic mercury pollution, and encourage the growth of clean energy production; and played a vital role in the passage of the Great Lakes Compact, a historic agreement made between 8 states and two Canadian provinces not to divert water outside of the Great Lakes basin. These represent only a small sample of our organization’s many victories that help preserve all the special places that make Wisconsin such a wonderful place to live, work and play. But even with a long list of environmental victories, our work is far from done. Today we face environmental challenges La Follette and Anderson could not even have imagined when they started the organization 40 years ago. Climate change, invasive species, water over-usage, and the health impacts of fine particulate matter are only a few of a growing list of environmental challenges. Luckily, these great challenges also hold great opportunity. By working to replace dirty coal plants with clean renewable energy, for example, we can invest in Wisconsin’s economy, increase our energy independence, and boost our economy, while reducing air, water, and global warming pollution. At the 40th anniversary celebration, Doug La Follette announced a $100,000 endowment gift, and the Madison Community Foundation issued a challenge grant, where they will contribute $100,000 to Clean Wisconsn’s endowment fund if the community raises $200,00. Coupled with the continued help of our members, these gifts will help us build capacity and help ensure that Clean Wisconsin continues to effectively advocate on behalf of our environment and protect our state’s clean air and clean water for generations to come.
Celebrating 40 Years of Environmental Advocacy
Nonpoint Pollution Act
Comprehensive Groundwater Protection Act
Wisconsin Environmental Policy Act
Wisconsin Comprehensive Recycling Law
Kidney Island Lawsuit
Wisconsin Power Plant Siting Law
Wisconsin Mining Reclamation Law
Statewide Energy Efficiency Fund
Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Bill
Wisconsin Acid Rain Law
1984 & ‘86
1991 Creation of the Lower
Wisconsin Riverway & Wetland Water Quality Rules
Sulfide Mining Moratorim Law & State Pesticide Law
Photo credits Lower Wisconsin River & canoe: Three If By Bike/flickr.com; Cows in pasture: skinnyde/flickr.com. All others Clean Wisconsin or stock art.
6 The Defender, Spring 2010, Vol. 40, No. 2
Our Vision for 2050 My vision for 2050: No one in Wisconsin will have to rely on automobile ownership to reliably get to where they need to go. —Elizabeth Wheeler, REAMP Coordinator
Staffers share their visions for a clean Wisconsin
In the future, I hope that all our cars will be powered by hydraulicphotosynthezing-endoplasmic-reticulums with full carbon capture and sequestration capabilities. This should solve most of our environmental woes.
—Ryan Schryver, Clean Energy Advocate & Grassroots Organizer
and on a similar note...
By 2050, the energy resources in Wisconsin have been woven into a rejuvenated diverse landscape of forests, grasslands and farms. Large cornfields have been replaced by smaller cornfields interspersed with fruit and vegetable crops, while wind turbines spin lazily along the ridgelines. Diverse grasses and trees form buffers around streams and drainage features on Wisconsin’s farms, and periodically the farmer harvests the grasses to supply nearby members of a community-supported energy coop with grass pellets for high-efficiency pellet stoves and boilers. Cows and other farm animals slowly move across different pastures, and the conservation lands interspersed with the farms provide habitat for wildlife and trails for hikers. Food and farm wastes have largely disappeared; instead, farmers talk about the movement of carbon and nutrients through cycles. Digesters are fed all of the farm wastes, along with compostable products from the cities to produce the biogas that runs the farm equipment. The roofs of farm buildings gleam with solar panels and the farmer’s income is supported by checks from city energy users. Visitors to the farmland pedal bikes along a seamless network of bike paths or ride in quiet electric trains and wonder why our rural landscape and energy landscape were ever separated in the first place... — Pete Taglia, Staff Scientist
By 2050, we will have achieved sustainable reverse-gravity-geothermal-nuclear-torque-technology capabilities (with carbon capture and storage).
—Lizzy Edelstein, REAMP Program Assistant
High-speed rail will be the fastest and cheapest form of transportation. Cities with populations of 10,000+ will have intercity rail and all the major cities will be connected with high-speed rail of at least 200 mph. Crops will be genetically modified to consume five times more CO2 than they currently do and farmers will receive offset credits per acre of these GMO crops. Cows will be bred so that they don’t require rumen to digest their food and therefore don’t create methane as a byproduct (like a horse, of course). —Sarah Shanahan, Global Warming Associate
Wisconsin will consume drastically less energy than it does now. Individuals, businesses, and industry will have converted or upgraded to the most efficient appliances and other equipment possible, saving millions of dollars and reducing pollution. People will have realized that living larger is not necessarily living better, and will have scaled back the size of their homes, cars and overall consumption of unnecessary junk. Instead of focusing on new ways to generate more electricity, we’ll have figured out how to live within our energy means — using exactly as much energy as we can create without destroying our air quality, exposing ourselves to radiation, or adding more carbon to the atmosphere. By adopting a “human-scale” approach to where and how we live, people in Wisconsin will be healthier and our lakes, forests and farmlands will too, and will continue to nourish and inspire us. —Katie Nekola, Energy Program Director
State Pesticide Law
Clean Energy Act; Shut down two dirty coal boilers in Green Bay Fought Crandon Mine threat to Wolf River & Wisconsin’s Mercury Reduction Rules Environmental Decade becomes Clean Wisconsin
Wind Siting Reform Law
2004, 2008, 2009
2003 2002 Polluted
Runoff Reduction Rules
Governor Signs Great Lakes Compact
State & Federal Passage of Great Lakes Compact
Elm Road Settlement secures $96 million for Lake Michigan restoration
Phosphorus Reduction Laws; E-Waste Recycling Law
Proposed Alliant Coal Plant Defeated Clean Wisconsin
Bullish on Biogas
Rethinking Wisconsin’s Potential By Peter Taglia, Staff Scientist
Wisconsin has a bounty of agricultural, forest and urban resources suitable for producing biogas, a renewable substitute for natural gas, which can significantly reduce Wisconsin’s fossil fuel use and global warming pollution. These resources, coupled with new and emerging conversion technologies and appropriate state policy, can make biogas a powerful addition to the renewable energy landscape in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, most people aren’t as familiar with biogas as they are with wind and solar power. And those who have heard of biogas may only know about its use at a few large dairy farms, an application that is both limited in potential and controversial in the environmental and sustainable agricultural community. Clean Wisconsin is currently working on a project to illustrate Wisconsin’s potential to produce biogas and provide a roadmap to make biogas a positive force for the sustainability of Wisconsin’s environment. Why are we bullish on biogas? Promising new technologies and applications of biogas are not just a pipe dream, but a potential renewable energy powerhouse. The mainstay of biogas production, digesters, are being used in new ways such as the community manure digester in Dane County (see “Digesters in Wisconsin”). Other digesters in Wisconsin are using food processing wastes to produce energy, such as the cheese-processing waste digester in Beaver Dam. Toronto, Ontario, uses digesters to produce energy from household organic waste collected from a curbside bin program. A new type of digester that uses dry organic waste is being installed at UW-Oshkosh to produce biogas from cafeteria waste, and another digester is being installed in Tomah that will mix food waste from Fort McCoy with slaughterhouse wastes to produce energy and reduce the need for new landfill space. The most promising technology for large-scale biogas production is converting plant matter and waste matter to gas. Called gasification technology, this technology is well understood, but it has only recently reached larger scales that enable economic production of biogas from biomass. Xcel Energy was recently given approval to convert an old coal plant in Ashland for biomass gasification; this facility will convert wood waste and forest residues to biogas, which will be directly combusted in a boiler. A smaller biomass gasifier at an ethanol plant in Minnesota uses corn cobs to produce a biogas that powers an ethanol plant, reducing the plant’s fossil fuel use. Converting plant fibers into biogas greatly expands energy output potential and increases the profile of biogas as a significant renewable resource in the Midwest. Finally, new biogas end-use applications in the Midwest illustrate its versatility. To date, most biogas production has been used in engines to produce electricity, but recent projects have compressed biogas for use as a vehicle fuel and cleaned biogas to natural gas quality for pipeline distribution. Expanding the uses of biogas beyond electricity to vehicle fuel and renewable natural gas provides multiple benefits to biogas producers and raises the profile of biogas as a significant renewable resource in the Midwest. These new uses also provide economic benefits and policy opportunities for renewable energy.
Legislative Leadership REP. AL OTT By Amber Meyer Smith, Program Director
Representative Al Ott (R-Forest Junction) has served in the State Assembly for 24 years, and in that time has been an independent voice on many important issues. Before being elected to the Assembly, Representative Ott was a tenant dairy farmer, a cash crop farmer, an agribusiness salesman, and a member of the Calumet County Board. He also served on the Wisconsin Land Conservation Board. Representative Ott is a current member and past chairman of the Assembly Agriculture Committee, and is committed to a sustainable Representative Al Ott (right) with Melissa Van Ornum from GHD, agricultural economy for Wisconsin. Inc. (a Chilton-based digester company) stand in front of a model He sees the advantages that manure digester at the Clean Wisconsin sponsored “Homegrown generating homegrown energy can Energy Day” at the State Capitol. have on Wisconsin’s agricultural and economic future. “We can take advantage of our abundant natural resources to grow our agricultural economy in a way that benefits not only the environment, but also reduces our dependence on foreign oil,” Ott remarked. “Agriculture has an important role to play in our clean energy future.” Representative Ott also serves on the Assembly Transportation Committee, where he recently voted to support the creation of Regional Transit Authorities for certain areas of Wisconsin, including the Fox Valley. These measures will promote public transit options and help reduce the environmental impacts of our current dependence on automobiles. Ott also authored Assembly Joint Resolution 1, declaring 2010 the Year of the Niagara Escarpment to promote awareness of the unique geologic and natural resource known locally as “The Ledge.” The Niagara Escarpment is home to over 240 different rare, threatened or endangered plant and animal species and are home to both High Cliff and Peninsula State parks. Find out more about the over 30 different events, lectures, and activities have been planned to celebrate the Niagara Escarpment at www.escarpmentnetwork. org. Clean Wisconsin looks forward to working with Representative Ott on important agriculture, transportation and conservation issues in the future.
Digesters in Wisconsin Producing biogas from cow manure with conventional digesters is limited to large dairy farms with good electrical infrastructure, and the total potential in Wisconsin is between 70 and 150 MW. While these digesters may have some water quality benefits by changing the chemical form of the algae- and runoff-causing nutrients in manure, the overall amount of the nutrients (principally nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium) and the amount of waste from these dairies does not change significantly due to the digesters. Given the many air, water and sustainability concerns surrounding the expansion of mega-farms, it’s no surprise that biogas has not been seen as a panacea by the environmental community. A community manure digester under development in Dane County provides a new model for the production of renewable energy and the protection of water quality. The “Clean Energy, Clean Lakes” project near Waunakee will link three medium-sized dairy farms to one anaerobic digester and water treatment system. The project will produce approximately 2 MW of electricity, and the wastewater treatment system will remove approximately 70 percent of the phosphorus from the manure. In addition, the system is designed with an unloading dock to process additional manure in the event of an emergency, such as floodwaters threatening a manure lagoon at one of Dane County’s 400 dairy farms. The combination of the emergency manure handling, phosphorus removal system, and the partnership among three community farms provide a positive example for digester expansion in Wisconsin.
Promising new technologies and applications of biogas are not just a pipe dream, but a potential renewable energy powerhouse. PHOTO: Vortexrealm, en.wikipedia.org
8 The Defender, Spring 2010, Vol. 40, No. 2
We couldn’t have done it without you...
Thank you to the following who either sponsored our 40th anniversary event or donated items to our successful silent auction. Without your generosity, our event would not have been possible.
Secretary of State Doug La Follette
d d Laura & Richard Kracum Axley Brynelson, LLP
Bank of New Glarus Community Shares of Wisconsin Cullen Weston Pines & Bach LLP Gary Goyke & Nancy Rottier Susan & Jerry Greenfield Brian Kelly & Caitlin Sticco
La Capra Associates Martin Schreiber & Associates PinkJules Mark Redsten & Peggy Scallon Roger & Pauline Sneath
Ann Jablonski Applied Tech Richard & Gail Baker Loyal & Bernice Durand Susan Durst Harvest Restaurant Interior Investments of Madison Margi & Dave Kindig
Stephen Koermer Organic Valley Lucia & Pete Petrie Rosalee & Avalon Sky Photography The Monkey Bar Gymnasium Gof & Mary Thomson Wegner LLP Guy & Joan Wolf
Althea Dotzour Photography Balance Personal Training Patricia Bowne Capital Brewery Co. Eco Friendly Flooring Ephraim Faience Pottery Shari & Mark Eggleson Geek World Group Health Cooperative
Amber Meyer Smith Hans Meyer Trish & Keith Reopelle Amy Rice Lucy Saunders PlanetZebulon.net Vitse Family Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation
See back page for “Scenes” from the event!
from Clean Wisconsinâ€™s 40th Anniversary Party
Photography by Nicole Richmond Photography, Madison
The Defender is the quarterly membership newsletter of Clean Wisconsin