News

December 15, 2020Client Alert

Wisconsin Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change Reports Strategies to Address Climate Change

On December 9, 2020, the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change released its final report outlining an array of policy options and implementation strategies for Wisconsin to address growing concerns of the effects of climate change. The recommendations found in this report are intended to lay the foundation for the state to better adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, while also seeking economic opportunities in renewable energy and conservation.

The 32-member task force, established in October 2019, met for several months to discuss climate concerns and develop potential solutions to address these concerns. In preparing its Report, the task force considered a wide range of information and feedback, including expert presentations and public commentary.

The Report includes 46 policy options and implementation strategies relating to the following nine sectors: Climate Justice & Equity, Energy, Transportation, Agriculture, Resilient Systems, Clean Economy, Education, Food Systems, and Forestry. Identified potential policy options include:

  • Reducing net carbon emissions from the power sector to at least 60 percent below 2005 levels by 2030 and 100 percent below 2005 levels by 2050
  • Mandating a racial disparity impact study for development projects
  • Developing electricity storage and microgrids for critical infrastructure
  • Supporting farmer-led watershed groups
  • Conducting a complete analysis and create a pathway to participate in or implement carbon pricing that is optimal for Wisconsin
  • Paying farmers to increase soil carbon storage in agricultural and working lands
  • Making managed grazing livestock production systems an agricultural priority
  • Creating a Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Green Grant and Loan program

These policy options will be pursued via three pathways, including executive or agency action, the 2021-2023 State Budget, and legislation.

The Report also identified nine so-called “Tier 2” policy options that were discussed by the task force and which may merit further discussion and consideration outside of the work of the task force. These include controversial policies such as:

  • Avoiding construction of all new fossil fuel infrastructure
  • State divestment of fossil fuel stocks and other interests
  • Allowing third party renewable financing (solar/energy generation)
  • Working with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, and other stakeholders to focus on enhancing opportunities and financial value for clean distributed energy resources in the wholesale markets
  • Developing strategies for the cost-effective early closure and reduced use of coal facilities
  • Maximizing co-benefits and related financial value from clean energy projects
  • Modernizing utility rate design
  • Promoting the use of clean transportation fuels to ensure immediate and long-term emissions reductions
  • Encouraging the Wisconsin Attorney General (AG) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the role of agricultural monopolization as it relates to family farmers' economic resiliency when adapting to climate change

The full Report may be found here.

“The recommendations found in this report are intended to lay the foundation for the state to better adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change, while also seeking economic opportunities in renewable energy and conservation.”- Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change Report, December 2020.

For more information, contact your Michael Best attorney or an attorney listed below.

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