Sunday, September 25th, 2016

State appointed advocacy group

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If you want to learn how the Public Service Commission lost the trust of both Republicans and Democrats over the global warming bill, you’ll want to read the latest from Patrick McIlheran.

The Public Service Commission, our regulator of power rates, weighed in with a study arguing the mandate would save money. Aside from that study’s weird assumptions and outright errors, this raises a question: Why is the referee weighing in on the game?

That’s the other benefit of the mandates’ demise: This year at least, there is no payoff for manipulations by the pro-windmill interests.

Manipulate they did. More evidence emerged last weekend when a lawmaker used an open records request to unearth e-mails between a lobbyist for the environmentalist group 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and Eric Callisto, the Doyle-appointed chairman of the PSC.

It’s a small but telling matter: In 2007, the Governor’s Task Force on Global Warming was deciding whether to impose California’s car emission standards on Wisconsin. Callisto e-mailed the lobbyist, a task force member named Steve Hiniker, to offer help. General Motors was going to tell the committee just how costly the standards would be. Hiniker’s group said it couldn’t muster a suitably impressive response, “nor can we afford to buy the kind of presentation that is needed to refute there (sic) presentation,” he wrote to Callisto – after the chairman said he’d heard of Hiniker’s plight.

Hiniker asked whether the state could pay to fly in a California regulator to refute GM. Within a week, state money got spent, apparently at Callisto’s arranging, to make this happen.

Was this proper? Legal? Usual? I got no answer out of Callisto’s office after a week of asking, but the lawmaker who uncovered the maneuver, Rep. Brett Davis (R-Oregon), said “a line was crossed.” The problem, he said, wasn’t the money, a small amount, but the way regulators allowed themselves to be enlisted into a political fight.

“They were trying to make it all work for the governor,” he said. “They weren’t listening to what these industries were saying.”

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