Wisconsin county upset with climate naysayers will acquire more CNG trucks

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Dane County, Wis. announced that it’s converting more of its snow plow trucks to compressed natural gas (CNG) as part of its boldest action yet in addressing climate change.

Dane County’s latest efforts at lowering emissions are at least partially fueled by opposition from U.S. Congress and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

“While Congress balks at new emissions restrictions proposed by the President and state experts are prohibited to work on climate change because of an executive order from the governor, local governments are once again in the best position to demonstrate leadership and vision,” a press release from the county states.

In 2014, Dane County, which includes the state’s capital city of Madison, became one of the first government fleets in the country to plow snow with CNG powered highway patrol trucks.

Now, citing increased concerns with climate change—including what it says are shorter freeze spans at neighboring lakes—Dane County’s 2017 budget calls for tripling its production of solar power, creates the Dane County Office of Energy and Climate Change, establishes a new Council on Climate Change to coordinate the community’s work to reduce carbon emissions, and accelerates the county’s conversion of snow plows and other fossil fuel burning vehicles to cleaner burning renewable compressed natural gas.

With funding included in Dane County Executive Joe Parisi’s 2017 budget, the county reports that it will have 75 vehicles running on CNG by the end of next year, including nearly one-third of the county’s highway fleet. CNG for the vehicles will be produced naturally at the county’s landfill.

“Dane County has a consistent track record of pursuing cleaner, greener sources of energy, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and reinventing county operations to make them run better not only for the public, but also the environment,” Parisi says. “This is our boldest action yet to address climate change and lead the way for our community and the State of Wisconsin.”

Dane County reports that climate change has had a direct effect on its county.

“It’s happening in Dane County. Lakes Mendota and Monona are not staying frozen as long as it used to,” the county press release states. “One-hundred-fifty years of record keeping of when the lake froze over and when the ice breaks up shows a long-term downward trend. One-hundred-fifty years ago the ice lasted four months on Lake Mendota. Today it lasts only three months.”

Dane County’s Council on Climate Change will include representatives of local governments, business, utilities, and environmental advocates, working together to extend the work of county government.

The county recently reached an agreement with the La Follette School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin which it reports will help better assess the impact of the progress Dane County has made to date at reducing carbon emissions, increasing green energy production, and consumption and making energy efficiency improvements to facilities.

Dane County is outlined in the map below.