Energy production key for state

Dr. Jonathan Patz, director of the Global Health Institute at UW-Madison and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, gave a wonderful presentation at UW-Eau Claire recently.

Patz made reference to a Feb. 4 report, prepared for the Office of Sustainability-La Crosse County, which was authored by David Abel and Katya Spear, also of UW- Madison.

The report shows how Wisconsin is being dramatically harmed because we have no fossil fuel resources. Wisconsin had an energy spending deficit of $14.4 billion. As a percentage of Wisconsin’s population, Eau Claire County’s share of that deficit would be 225.6 million.

All of the dollars we spend for this energy is leaving the state. The good news is that in-state renewable energy production would eliminate this deficit and, in his lecture, Patz confirmed that this is achievable. Overall, the impact would be overwhelmingly positive for Wisconsin.

The report concludes that in-state energy production would directly create an estimated 162,100 net jobs (Eau Claire County’s share, 2,948 jobs) as well as generate $457.9 million in added income tax (Eau Claire County’s share, $8.1 million).

The report finds that there would be a $110.5 million increase in gross tax revenue on wholesale expenditures (Eau Claire County’s share, $1.96 million). Social/environmental benefits and avoided human health damages as a result of reductions in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions was valued at $25.7 billion (Eau Claire County’s share, 119.2 million).

The potential for remaking our economy is exciting. In the process we will be supporting our skilled craft workers, tradespeople and factory workers who have seen the jobs they loved shipped thousands of miles away. Transitioning to in-state energy generation with all deliberate speed will make this a reality.

James Schumacher

Eau Claire