Investing in our green economy

May 1, 2010

By Jon Richards, 19th District State Representative

Going green is not only good for the environment, but also for the bottom line. Going green can create new jobs in the clean energy sector-an industry with enormous growth potential. While many of Wisconsin’s manufacturers are focused on creating jobs and staying competitive in this tough market, allowing employers to save money on the cost of energy keeps Wisconsin businesses more competitive and more profitable.

Wisconsin businesses want to invest in energy efficiency. Last month I attended an event with AT&T Wisconsin where they announced the deployment of their first Compressed Natural Gas vehicles in Wisconsin. I was proud to stand with AT&T and support their effort to invest in cleaner domestic alternative fuel vehicles. The deployment of these 42 vans that service the Milwaukee area will cut down on the amount of carbon dioxide emissions and ultimately make the air we breathe healthier and reduce our reliance on foreign sources of energy.

In order to help more businesses like AT&T invest in cleaner, renewable energy, I worked to pass legislation that gives Wisconsin employers the tools they need to jumpstart these efforts. The legislation created a one-stop shop for Wisconsin manufacturers that are seeking to take advantage of state and federal green energy assistance programs and resources.

In addition to this legislation, I worked to advance the Clean Energy Jobs Act. Four years ago, Wisconsin became one of the first states to enact renewable portfolio standards, reducing our dependence on foreign fuels and creating jobs. As a result, we have seen rapid expansion in renewable energy production and major growth in clean energy jobs. The Clean Energy Jobs Act failed to pass the legislature this year; however, I will continue to fight to bring this idea to fruition.

Every year, Wisconsin sends $16 billion out of our state to power our homes and businesses and fuel our vehicles. The Clean Energy Jobs Act will help reduce our dependence on foreign fuels and make sure that Wisconsin does not miss out on the opportunity to have a piece of the emerging clean energy job market.

Last month we celebrated the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Now is a good time to reflect on how far we have come in the fight to protect our environment. I will continue to work toward developing new and innovative ways of assisting businesses to create jobs and help keep our environment clean for generations to come.

Jon Richards is the state representative for Wisconsin’s 19th state Assembly District, which includes Bay View, the Third Ward, eastern downtown, and the East Side. His website is jonrichards.org. He can be reached at (888) 534-0019 or rep.richards@legis.wi.gov.

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