June 25, 2008

Building Economy and Protecting Environment Topics of Town Hall Meeting at UW-L

By Joe Orso, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jun. 25--A new alliance between workers and environmentalists seeks to create green jobs in Wisconsin and across the nation.

"Doing what's good for the environment has worked out to be what's good for the economy as well," said Ryan Schryver, energy policy specialist for Clean Wisconsin, at a town hall meeting Tuesday night at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. The meeting was part of a "Green Jobs for America" campaign, a project of the United Steelworkers, the Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Blue Green Alliance.

Schryver -- one of five panelists representing farming, private business, labor and local government -- opened the two-hour event with a PowerPoint explanation of how global warming caused by humans burning fossil fuels is a reality largely accepted by the scientific community.

"This is one of the largest moral issues of our time," he said.

Panelists talked about how bringing jobs in manufacturing wind turbine parts, modernizing the infrastructure of the energy grid and training electricians, carpenters and others to work with green technology are all ways to boost the economy in Wisconsin.

"How many people have actually thought about whether their skills could be put to work doing a green job?" asked Rosemary Wehnes, a Sierra Club representative who moderated the event.

Bill Brockmiller, a La Crosse County Board supervisor, said he sees very little resistance to renewable energy among his constituents.

To those who do resist, he said, he asks even if global warming is not a reality, what's wrong with finding alternatives to fueling cars when gasoline costs $4 a gallon?

"Certain areas get known for certain kinds of businesses, and I think Wisconsin is in a position to become its own Silicon Valley for renewable energy," Brockmiller said.

Joe Orso can be reached at (608) 791-8429 or [email protected]


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