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EDITORIAL: Utilities will keep growing until we change

A simple flip of the switch energized the Arrowhead-Weston power line Tuesday. But that hardly represents the physical and emotional effort that preceded construction.

A simple flip of the switch energized the Arrowhead-Weston power line Tuesday. But that hardly represents the physical and emotional effort that preceded construction.

Discussion was controversial and heated. Proponents and opponents held strong beliefs about the issue, and they didn't back down. With little doubt, their current opinions remain unchanged.

Still, one thing is clear: No matter how we feel about electrical lines, oil refineries, nuclear plants, coal-fired generators and facilities that manufacture and transmit convenient power, Americans will continue to need environmentally unfriendly utilities unless we turn our focus toward efficiency and alternative strategies.

More simply, don't run air conditioning, watch plasma TV and commute in a 1-ton pickup unless you're willing to live with the environmental impact.

Given human nature, that won't happen on an individual basis. We must enact intelligent, strong, fair policy to point American society in the right direction. Gov. Jim Doyle and progressive-minded legislators are leading Wisconsin toward that goal. Utilities also are nudging their customers toward conservation.

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As usual, Washington is moving too slow. But with the presidential election in full swing, it's time to raise the issue -- and make public opinion felt. Hopefully, power line opponents and all conservationists will continue their struggle through the political system.

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