AG Sides With WMC on Pollution Standards

August 5, 2015

Attorney General Brad Schimel says Wisconsin will join a multi-state lawsuit against tougher federal air pollution standards, which are opposed by special interests that spent an estimated $2.2 million last fall to help elect him.

New rules to sharply reduce carbon emissions from power plants by 2030 were announced Monday by the Obama administration. The rules would require Wisconsin power plants to cut carbon emissions by 34 percent from 2012 levels by 2030.

Environmental and public health groups, like Clean Wisconsin, praised the new rules, claiming that cutting carbon emissions would address global warming and reduce respiratory and other health care problems caused by air pollution, without increasing energy costs in the long run.

Critics say the new rules will hurt states, like Wisconsin, whose utilities burn more carbon-producing coal than natural gas to generate electricity for residential and commercial use. Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state’s largest business group, says the rules will increase energy costs and hurt manufacturing, an industry Wisconsin’s economy relies on more than other states.

WMC, which is a top spender on lobbying and legislative and statewide elections in order to influence state policy and spending, secretly raised and spent an estimated $1.5 million on two television ads – here and here – to support Schimel during the 2014 fall elections.

In addition to its outside election spending, WMC claims to have 3,500 member businesses that hail from more than a dozen special interest groups, including business, manufacturing, energy, insurance, health care, transportation, construction, real estate, finance, tourism, agriculture, road builders, natural resources and telecommunications. The interests represented by WMC contributed nearly $750,000 in large individual and political action committee (PAC) contributions to Schimel in 2013 and 2014, including $10,650 from electric utility executives and PACs.

Even though Schimel was elected to a four-year term just nine months ago, his campaign issued a fundraising plea the same day he said Wisconsin would join the lawsuit to oppose the new rules. Schimel claimed in the fundraising plea that the Obama administration’s move is unconstitutional and the rules will hurt Wisconsin’s economy. “This is why I am gearing up to sue the Obama administration. Will you stand with me against the federal government’s overreach by sending $15, $25, or even $50? Our future and our economy depend on reliable and affordable energy. Help me tell the Obama administration that unconstitutional mandates are wrong for Wisconsin and wrong for the United States,” Schimel said in his fundraising plea.