Rep. Neubauer Releases Climate Change Package

This week, Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) released a package of bills to address climate change in Wisconsin. The “Forward on Climate” package addresses carbon emissions, investment in renewable energy, weatherization, and sustainable farming.


Social Cost of Carbon

LRB 4811 would require the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) to consider the social cost of carbon in determining whether to issue certificates for utility-scale electric generating facilities or high-voltage transmission lines.

The bill states that the Legislature’s initial finding of the “social cost of carbon” is $50 per ton of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. But under the bill PSCW must reevaluate that cost annually. In evaluating adjustments to the social cost of carbon PSCW must consult with the Department of Natural Resources and be consistent with international consensus. The bill requires PSCW to submit an annual report on its findings to the Legislature, beginning Jan. 1, 2021.

Coauthors of the bill are: Rep. Jimmy Anderson (D-Fitchburg), Rep. Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire), and Sen. Mark Miller (D-Monona).


Green Banks

LRB 3971 would require the Department of Administration (DOA) to contract with an independent consultant for a study of developing a green bank in Wisconsin. A “green bank” would be a financial institution using both public funds and private investment to invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

The study would analyze green banks in other states, strategies for leveraging private capital into renewable energy projects, existing programs in Wisconsin, and implications for underserved communities, as well as develop a business plan and timeline for a Wisconsin green bank.

DOA would be required to submit a report on the study to the Legislature by one year after the effective date of the bill.

Coauthors of the bill are: Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee), Rep. Shelia Stubbs (D-Madison), and Sen. Bob Wirch (R-Racine).


School District Weatherization Projects

LRB 3848 would require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to award grants to school districts for weatherization projects. According to the cosponsorship memo, the grants would support weatherization and energy efficiency updates to save costs on energy bills and reduce fossil fuel usage.

DPI would grant awards of up to $100,000 to schools beginning in 2020-21. School districts could use up to 10 percent of their grant awards for educational materials related to the weatherization project.

The bill initially provides $1.5 million for these grants.

Coauthors of the bill are: Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie), and Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay).


Sustainable Farming

LRB 4201 would require the Department of Trade, Agriculture & Consumer Protection (DATCP) to create a sustainable agriculture grant program. DATCP could award grants to farmers for implementing on-site fossil fuel efficiency measures, planting certain types of vegetation, using no- or low-till practices, or creating conservation management plans.

The bill requires DATCP to leverage other nonstate public or private funding when prioritizing grant recipients. DATCP must also seek to maximize total reduction in atmospheric carbon dioxide and improvement in air or water quality while providing agronomic benefits. The bill also specifies that DATCP attempt to provide grants to a variety of projects in a variety of areas of the state.

The bill initially provides $3 million for these grants. DATCP can use 20 percent of its appropriated funds for the program on education programs about the grants, administration of the program, and technical assistance.

Coauthors of the bill are: Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point), Rep. Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit), and Sen. Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire).