Thursday, May 8, 2008

Capitol Makeover

Lincoln, Nebraska, is buzzing with the news that Wal-Mart has selected Nebraska as one of 20 state capitols to get an energy makeover – but not all the buzz is positive.

When the announcement came on May 5 that the world’s largest retailer would partner with 19 states and Puerto Rico to perform energy audits on selected government buildings and recommend ways to lower energy costs, Nebraskans were at once surprised, pleased and disgruntled at the news that our state got a nod. Although we don’t yet know which of the three nominated buildings – the state capitol or one of two state office buildings – will actually receive the audit, the responses have been prolific, and both under- and over-whelming.

One blogger to the Lincoln Journal-Star newspaper opined, “This is great news.” Another whined, “They [Wal-Mart] do a lot of good for the environment, just not for their employees.”

But the most far-reaching, and wary, response came from this blogger: “My concern is the size of the company. We all know they are big, but now big enough to do Nebraska a favor and select us so they can help us. Will we as a state be able to say no to them in the future if need be? What about other states across the country? When you consider their size and the amount of money they are spending lobbying and giving to political campaigns, it would seem that a thinking person would ask where this is all headed.”

Given the suspicious tone of this blog and plenty of others, it becomes quite clear that potentially being beholden to Wal-Mart isn’t a pleasant thought to a population of conservative Midwesterners.

—Katherine Field

Photo courtesy of the Lincoln Journal-Star

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