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COMMENTARY ARCHVES
   

JUNE COMMENTARY
by Share Brandt

This Is Not Partisan Politics

Some months ago, our local-page editors from co-ops across the state asked us to provide information on how people who don't already have suitable photo identification for voting can obtain it, in case the Wisconsin voter ID law should take effect.

The resulting article didn't strike us as particularly explosive, so we were pretty surprised when a number of readers attacked us, saying we were pushing a partisan political agenda. One even accused us of concealing the fact that the law was not in force, having been blocked by two judges in Dane County. The truth is that information appears prominently in the early paragraphs of the one-page article.

We fully understand that people are very politically divided right now, and that Wisconsin at the moment has the unpleasant role of being political Ground Zero for the whole nation. We fully understand that people have strong feelings and deeply held beliefs. That's fine. Strong feelings are at the heart of self-government. But they don't excuse obscene rants over the telephone or letters designed to intimidate a membership publication against providing information the readers may need in order to exercise their fundamental rights as citizens.

Revealing the Price Drivers

On issues related to the cost impacts of EPA regulation, we have an obligation to inform electric co-op members about the price drivers causing their electric rates to increase on a nearly annual basis. One of these price drivers is the addition of renewable energy to meet the requirements of the state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standard of 10 percent of all electric energy consumed being renewable by 2015. We continue to meet or exceed our incrementally rising goals.

The major driver is new revisions to the Clean Air Act, which has been in force since President Richard Nixon signed the law in 1970. The Act was a product of Congress taking bipartisan action to eliminate smog created by automobiles and factories. In 1990, under President George H.W. Bush, the law was revised to curb acid rain, urban air pollution, toxic air emissions, and stratospheric ozone depletion. The new revisions to the Clean Air Act are the result of court rulings in lawsuits filed by environmental groups to make the law more stringent. The EPA is responding to court orders by revising the Act. Compliance with these new requirements will necessarily cost ratepayers more to receive electricity. We are obligated to tell our members to expect their rates to increase.

Obliged to Inform

This magazine does not promote partisan agendas, period. It aggressively promotes the agenda of keeping energy as affordable and reliable as it can be, on behalf of co-op members who in too many cases find it burdensome to manage rising electric bills. We do not and will not hesitate to point out the things that keep those bills going up. At one time or another, both Democrats and Republicans in public office have been on the opposite side from the electric co-ops on energy issues. We haven't attacked the parties, but we'll never hesitate to say what the issues are. We trust our readers to figure out the rest.

Regardless of who’s controlled state or federal government over the years, our editorial positions have been consistent and focused on our members. On some questions one party will be more closely aligned with our thinking and on different questions, the other party will be closer. We get along fine with both parties when everyone is practicing common sense.

 

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