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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Uniformity beats local control

From an editorial in the Dubuque Telegraph Herald:

Whether you're talking about hog confinement lots or wind farms, the message is the same: Uniform regulation throughout a state trumps local control.

The arguments over the siting of wind projects in Wisconsin during the past year sound much like the discussions several years ago about hog lots in Iowa. In both cases, having consistent guidelines makes sense. Iowa was operating under 99 sets of rules, with every county deciding its parameters for hog lots. Counties argued for local control. But the need for consistency made the stronger case. Eventually, a bipartisan state committee hammered out one set of rules. That made sense.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle is looking to do the same thing. He signed a law ordering the Public Service Commission to establish uniform standards regulating the construction and operation of wind energy systems. Not only is the approach more fair, it could save individual townships and counties lots of headaches.

Without uniform siting, communities were left to make these tough decisions on their own -- with strong constituent opinions Advertisement

on either side. In the face of public concern, trustees in southwest Wisconsin's Smelser Township passed moratoriums banning all wind projects. They apparently violated state open meetings law in the process, making decisions without properly notifying the public. Trustees say the moratorium was in response to citizens' concern that wind turbines pose a health risk.

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