Democratic Wisconsin legislators introduced a bill Thursday aimed at taking a hard line against global warming with carbon-dioxide emissions.
State Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, and state Sen. Mark Miller, D-Monona, announced a major legislative initiative to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2020.
"Today, we announced the introduction legislation to combat global warming — the solution is similar to [a California law] signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger," Black said. "The bill is almost identical to the California law."
Black said the responsibility for action against global warming falls to state legislators after the Bush administration "downplayed political consensus" and hasn't joined with worldwide standards.
The United States has avoided signing a worldwide program to reduce emissions that could drastically aid global warming, according to Black.
"The federal government has failed to take action with climate change, even though 164 countries have signed the Kyoto Protocol," Black said. "The threat is too great for us to sit on our hands — it's the job of the states to lead."
However, Adam Holland, a University of Wisconsin law student, said Bush made his decision to not sign the agreement based on economic reasons.
According to Holland, protecting the environment is always the goal, but he said a realistic time frame is necessary.
"The worry is always that we are cutting back too quickly — that we could damage the economy," said Holland, who is a member of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. "I think the Democrats are more aggressive, even if it does hurt the economy."
Black said the bill, though, is built with the opportunity of "market mechanisms" for cost efficiency.
"The bill takes a flexible approach, allowing market-based action," Black said. "[It suggests] conservation of energy, use of bio-fuels, new pollution controls and that all major sources of carbon dioxide be monitored and then have enforceable standards."
Black said the legislation will complement other statewide programs, such as Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle's Task Force on Global Warming, to explore various solutions.
Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said the Legislature has other priorities that it should focus on this session.
"I think there are more important issues, like the state budget," Suder said. "Some legislators have other priorities."
Suder also said it was ironic the bill was proposed on a bitterly cold day in Wisconsin.
Black said although the bill doesn't point out specific problem areas, the largest single source is coal-burning facilities.
UW has already initiated several environmentally friendly programs like the We Conserve campaign through Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, which was also invited to the announcement.
"Like the Charter Street plants, we do have some dirty technology, but we're working to reduce the impact we have," WISPIRG coordinator Lauren Crane said.