Minnesota Rep. Samantha Vang, (DFL-Brooklyn Center) attended the 2019 Berlin Seminar on Energy Policy July 13-20, as part of an approximately 20-member delegation led by Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.
“This is the first time the Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan has led a state delegation to discuss policies and issues regarding the future of Minnesota. She believes it is crucial to make sure we have diverse, experienced, and open people at the table,” Vang said. “I was one of three House members selected to come. I sit on the Agriculture Food Finance and Policy Committee, [and] she believes I bring a diverse and fresh perspective as we discuss policies in different industry sectors of our state.”
The trip was hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment and was funded through a grant from the German government. The seminar was part of a larger Regional Economies and Renewable Energy Policy dialogue, hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment in partnership with Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy.
One of Vang’s main takeaways from the trip, she said, is that it is time for Minnesota to end the discussion as to the validity of climate change, and to begin framing renewable energy as an economic development issue.
“Businesses and our younger workforce are calling for more sustainable practices and products. Germany is done having the conversation about whether climate change is real or if this is the morally right thing to do … if we don’t jump on the train, this is a missed opportunity for our state,” she said.
German renewable energy technology has not surpassed what is available in Minnesota, Vang said.
“There is no new technology that we don’t have that says we are not ready to make the push for renewable energy. Minnesota is prime ready to integrate renewable energy into our systems,” she said.
From a policy perspective, Vang said she would like to see more investment in renewable energies, such as wind and solar energy, at the state level. “Even though Minnesota is at prime in moving forward with renewable energy, it is important that we must be thorough and careful in our process of developing and implementing any large scale policies or programs,” she said. “Oftentimes when big policies are created, there are communities who continue to be left out and unable to reap the benefits of important policies that become institutionalized in our system.”
“I will be mindful of any policy ideas or programs to ensure we do things right and no one gets left behind,” Vang added.
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