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The Oak Creek Coal Plant Settlement

Plus Winners and Jerks of the Week

Aug. 13, 2008
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Issue of the Week:

The Oak Creek Coal Plant Settlement

The years-long battle to stop the expansion of We Energies’ coal plant in Oak Creek may have come to an end last week, when the utility and environmental groups agreed to settle their differences. Instead of continuing their legal challenge to the plant—which is scheduled to be fired up in 2009—Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club agreed on a $105 million settlement to be paid by We Energies, Madison Gas & Electric and Wisconsin Public Power.

A full $100 million will be spent on Lake Michigan restoration and protection projects, with $4 million to be parceled out each year for the next 25 years. That sustained funding should help protect the lake from invasive species, polluted runoff and habitat destruction. We Energies will also make a greater commitment to the state’s clean energy goals.

Katie Nekola of Clean Wisconsin said while she thought her group would have prevailed in court, winning the case could mean at least $200 million for the construction of new cooling towers—a huge expense that would have come out of the pockets of We Energies’ customers. The already-built cooling system, a 1.5-mile long pipe extended into Lake Michigan, cost about $100 million.

Instead, We Energies will ask the state Public Service Commission to allow it to charge its customers to cover the $105 million settlement in the coming years.

Nekola thinks it’s the best outcome that could be reached. “I think it was a good compromise between getting some good things for the environment and not saddling ratepayers with some outrageously expensive costs,” Nekola said.

Event of the Week:

Bars for the Arts Thursday, Aug. 14, Art Bar, 722 E. Burleigh Ave.

The Art Bar in Riverwest will host this fundraiser for the Insurgent Theatre, which will tour its recent project, Paint the Town, on the East Coast. Tickets are $10 and the night will include a live DJ, food, Lakefront beer specials and prizes. To purchase tickets in advance, go to www.insurgenttheatre.org, e-mail misskp.events@gmail.com or call 651-6576. (To find more cool events, go to www.expressmilwaukee.com)

Democracy In Action:

Milwaukee Public Schools Rock the Vote

Good citizenship starts early, and that includes learning about the importance of voting. So the MPS board approved Board President Peter Blewett’s resolutions to allow students to engage in mock elections and non-partisan electoral activities, such as voter-registration and get-out-the-vote drives.

Hero of the Week:

Vel Phillips

Civil rights legend Vel Phillips will be honored with her own custard flavor at Bella’s Fat Cat (2974 N. Oakland Ave. and 2737 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.). For a limited time, Bella’s will make a donation to the Vel Phillips Foundation with the purchase of each scoop of the chocolate-vanilla-cheesecake custard. Vel’s special flavor will be launched at a custard social on Friday, Aug. 15, at 1 p.m., at Bella’s Kinnickinnic Avenue location.

Jerk of the Week:

Scott Walker

Why would the Milwaukee County Executive blast a state Stewardship Fund purchase of the Rainbow Springs resort property in Waukesha and Walworth counties? Walker said it’s “outrageous,” even though the money was set aside in last year’s budget. What’s really outrageous is Walker’s political ambitions that have nothing to do with Milwaukee—and his neglect of our parks and natural resources.

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “The history of the pursuit of universal health care in America is one of missed chances, of political opportunities frittered away. Let’s hope that this time is different.” —Paul Krugman, writing in the New York Times



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