Stillwater Rep. Shelly Christensen and Rep. Jamie Long, two key environmental advocates in the Minnesota House, got several climate-related and clean energy bills passed in the 2019 legislative session only to see them killed in the Senate. Let’s make sure these bills are brought for a vote and passed this time.
Before a standing room-only audience at the Stillwater Public Library on January 9 hosted by the organization 100% Campaign, Reps. Christensen and Long and Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light’s Buff Grace addressed the year ahead in the climate fight.
Important climate bills passed the Minnesota House last year but the Senate refused to put them on the floor for a vote — Republican leadership labeled the bills “too extreme.”
These are the bills passed in the House that the Senate rejected:
• mandated 100% renewable energy production by all of Minnesota’s utilities by 2050
• a Clean Energy First bill that would have required utility companies to use clean energy to meet all additional demand going forward;
• a bill that would have allowed solar gardens to increase in size from the current one megawatt to three megawatts;
• an electric vehicle bill providing rebates of $500 to $2,500 to buyers of new and used EVs;
• a grant program aimed at creating electric vehicle charging stations in public places;
• a Prairie Island Indian Community grant to develop renewable energy systems;
• and a Solar at Schools provision to allow the state’s school districts to convert their buildings to solar energy. Energy is a school district’s second-highest annual cost.
• The state could also have been the first in the Midwest to adopt clean car standards.
Are these measures “too extreme?” We think not.
There is a huge difference regarding how seriously the parties take the climate crisis. A recent KFF.org Minnesota poll ( https://www.kff.org/report-section/blue-wall-voices-project-how-national-issues-may-influence-2020/ ) shows climate change at the bottom of most Minnesota Republicans’ priorities. For Democrats, it’s the opposite — concern about climate change is second only to healthcare.
The question is, how much longer will climate deniers rule the roost? Our river is now flooding for most of the year, there are more frequent extreme rainstorms, winters are warming 13X faster than summers. There have been six “300-year” rain events in Minnesota just since 2010.
Climate deniers can close their eyes to science, but they surely must see the economics of clean energy. As Rep. Long stated, Minnesotans spend $13 billion on fossil fuels annually and all of that money leaves the state. If replacement clean energy were generated here, we’d have 30,000 more clean energy jobs on top of the current 61,000.
The Minnesota legislative session starts February 11. On Feb. 25, show up at your party caucus and demand that action on climate change be on your party’s platform.
Be a Climate Voter. We need you.
W. Gorski is on the board of SustainableStillwaterMN.org , a 501c3 nonprofit.