On Earth Day, what of "Clean Energy Jobs Act"?

UPDATE: No new nukes in Wisconsin; bill fails.

What's in a name?

The Bush administration was famous for giving Orwellian names to its legislation.

His Clear Skies Initiative, for example, actually weakened the Clean Air Act and other air pollution regulations, and did nothing to deal with carbon dioxide emissions.

Which brings us to Wisconsin's cleverly-named Clean Energy Jobs Act, a piece of legislation still dangling in uncertainty on the final day of the legislative session -- which just happens to be Earth Day.

The bill (let's call it CEJA for short) has been three years in the making, and is the product of a global warming task force appointed by the governor in April 2007. A long list of recommendations from that task force were eventually shaped into a comprehensive bill, and someone, somewhere along the way, quit calling it the climate change bill and started calling it the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

They say a camel is a horse designed by a committee, and this bill certainly has some humps. They're called compromises, or trade-offs. And one of them, which opens the door to more nuclear reactors in Wisconsin, is a whopper.

On Making Mining Safer, Part Two, Or, "Can We Appeal Safety To Death?"

It was about a week ago that we last got together to talk about safety in coal mines, and we have some new developments in the story that deserve a bit more of your attention.

As we discussed last time, there are a huge number of hazards inherent in the operations of underground coal mines, and there are a series of “mitigators” that can be applied to reduce those hazards.

Ironically, the biggest hazard these miners face today might not be underground at all.

In today’s story we’ll consider the possibility that the most dangerous location in the mining industry might actually be at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, where an enormous backlog in enforcement actions is keeping dangerous mines open that might otherwise be closed.

It’s a “bad news, good news” story—but it really does have a potential happy ending, and with a bit of pressure, we can actually make life a whole lot better for miners, and their families, all across the country.

Reps. Kucinich, Moore to hold town meeting on Iraq, Afghanistan Sunday in Milwaukee

A rare chance for a public discussion on the wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan is on tap Sunday, Apr. 25, in Milwaukee.

It's a town hall meeting hosted by Peace Action-Wisconsin and the Democratic Party of Milwaukee County, and features Milwaukee Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Dennis Kucinich, the progressive (and antiwar) Ohio Congressman and 2008 presidential candidate.

It will run from 9:30 to 11:30 am at the Laborer's Hall, 6310 W Appleton Ave, Milwaukee.

Topics to be discussed include: When and how do we end the war in Iraq and Afghanistan? Will supplemental funding for the wars continue? What do we see as barriers for congress and/or administration to ending the wars?

The sponsors promise that there will be lots of time for questions and answers.

Quote, unquote

[W]ith your help, the strength of our campaign forced Tommy Thompson out of the U.S. Senate race. There can be no doubt that he saw what he would be up against and decided not to get in the ring because he saw a fight he could not win. -- John Kraus, Feingold senior strategist, in an email to supporters.

It's too early to pop the champagne or to call it a victory lap, as Talking Points Memo does, but there is reason for the Feingold folks to celebrate.

And there is plenty of reason to think that the prospect of losing had much more to do with Tommy's decision than anything his family had to say.

In the Legislature – as on the Highway – Speed Kills

It is a 150 page amendment to a 174 page bill and arrived on my desk this past Tuesday – a day when the Senate was voting on 67 other bills. The bill is up for a vote before the full Assembly this Tuesday.

The bill is known as the Clean Energy Jobs Act. The idea is to move us in to a new renewable energy economy and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels – especially coal. This is a laudable goal. Most everyone agrees we need to move to a renewable energy economy. The question is how to get there.

The amendment to the Clean Energy Jobs Act substantially changes the original bill. There are a lot of questions and few clear answers at this point.

One of the more controversial aspects of the Clean Energy Jobs Act is whether we should remove Wisconsin’s prohibition on nuclear power. The bill changes state law to allow the building of new nuclear power plants; the amendment reduces safety standards and increases the potential permissible size of new nuclear plants.

Waukesha Water, Milwaukee Water

I'm not one to draw attention to "Comments" in a media website, but the Comments on this article were illuminating in the sad way of modern political discussion. Raw, hurting, angry, and often devoid of fact.

Milwaukee County panel opposes Waukesha's plan for wastewater effluent

So, stepping in where only fools dare, I have added my own Comment:

Reading this discussion would make a visitor from Europe believe Waukesha and Milwaukee have nothing in common. The vitriol shouted back and forth across the County lines, however, is only the beginning of the discussion that could actually benefit both counties.

First of all, we ought to recognize how regional thinking could benefit both counties. Milwaukee wants political support to improve its public transportation. Waukesha wants Lake Michigan water.

Milwaukee has a vital interest in making its own city more dense, livable, walkable and less car-dependent. I know no one in Milwaukee who wants our workers to move to Waukesha, but I do know that some employers in Waukesha and Wauwatosa would like to figure out how to get low pay workers into their shops and factories.

Walker: I took a job 'before I finished off my college degree'

I would be the last person to argue that you need a college degree to succeed in life, since I don't have one myself. Of course, I'm not running for gov, either, but that's not why.

I dropped out of school in my junior year, took a newspaper job, and never looked back. But, based on how Scott Walker tells his story, maybe I should rephrase that.

Tony Galli of WKOW-TV in Madison asked Walker, a Marquette dropout, whether his lack of a degree was a problem, and whether he planned to get one. Said Walker:

“No, and it’s not an obstacle.

The better part of valor -- facing reality

The next time someone tells you that we must continue to wage war in Iraq or Afghanistan or in some other foreign adventure, to make certain that those who died there did not die in vain, remember the words of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of forces in Afghanistan.

Discussing the US abandonment of a military outpost in an area known as Death Valley, where 42 American troops -- and many more Afghan soldiers -- were killed and hundreds wounded, McChrystal said:

“I care deeply about everybody who has been hurt here, but I can’t do anything about it. I can do something about people who might be hurt in the future."

Do the troops feel we should stay to defend the honor of those who died there?

“It hurts,” Specialist Robert Soto of the 26th Infantry, who spent 12 months in the valley from 2008 to 2009, and saw half of his platoon killed or wounded, told the NY Times. “It hurts on a level that — three units from the Army, we all did what we did up there. And we all lost men. We all sacrificed. I was 18 years old when I got there. I really would not have expected to go through what we went through at that age...

Hold page one!

We've got a doozy of a story here from the Associated Press:

 Thompson denies reports that he won’t challenge Feingold

Former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson denied reports this morning that he has decided not to run for U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold’s seat.

What? That was yesterday's story?

Never mind.

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