Wis. senator calls for disbanding state's Clean Energy Committee - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wis. senator calls for disbanding of state's Clean Energy Committee

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Eau Claire (WQOW) - If you follow the legislature, you know there are countless committees at work in Madison.

One lawmaker says it's time to consider dumping one of those, because of the climate and the money spent studying it.

Wisconsin state Senator Glenn Grothman says he's not convinced climate change is happening in our state. Representing West Bend, he serves on the state's Clean Energy Committee. He says the committee should disband and stop pursuing alternative energy options for the state.

"The whole reason we're spending this additional money is because we're supposed to be fighting global warming," says Sen. Grothman during a phone interview. "Well, if we have two years where temperatures in Wisconsin are below average, why are we doing it?"

Grothman points to reports by the Wisconsin Climatology Office that say temperatures in the state have been below average for the past two years. He says we should wait to see what temperatures do in the coming years before trying to combat the climate change.

Dr. James Boulter at UW-Eau Claire disagrees. He's an assistant professor of chemistry. He says Grothman is confusing weather with climate.

"When we think of weather, that's how we relate to it: over short time scales, over small area scales," says Dr. Boulter. "And that's correct. That's what weather is. But climate has to include much, much longer time scales, much, much larger area scales or distance scales."

Sen. Grothman also argues alternative energy options like wind are too expensive. He says electric costs could increase 30 percent if wind energy is increased in the state.

"At first glance, if you look at the electric bill, you think, 'My electric bill is going up 30 percent.' It's not just that. Businesses' electric bills are going up 30 percent, too. ... Do we want the electric bill for the manufactures in the Eau Claire area to go up 30 percent? No, we don't want that," Sen. Grothman says.

Dr. Boulter agrees: wind energy would cost more.

"By and large, Wisconsin does not have particularly good wind potential," he says.

But, he says, the costs are necessary.

"On one hand, that's a responsibility," he says. "We emit so much more greenhouses gases in the world that we should take the responsibility to make the changes."

Both men do agree on one thing: this long-running debate won't be settled anytime soon.

No action has been taken on the senator's proposal to disband the clean energy committee so far. In fact, the committee was at work Tuesday in Madison. It reviewed legislation that would require utility companies to use more wind energy in the state.

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