Climate Action Caucus unveils exciting project proposals

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By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership

On Monday, the Minnesota House Climate Action Caucus unveiled “Minnesota Can-Do Climate Actions,” a package of bills to invest $191.5 million from the projected state budget surplus in one-time spending into Minnesota communities for clean energy, clean transportation, and conservation efforts.

Last week, we wrote about how Minnesota can and should use bonding dollars to boost our climate efforts. This one-time spending would complement these bonding investments, focusing on categories that don’t fit bonding parameters.

These projects all have major benefits for climate action in Minnesota. They won’t solve the climate crisis by themselves, of course, but climate action is contagious. Investing in benefits like clean transportation and energy efficiency makes a real difference now, but also helps to provide communities with confidence, know-how, and inspiration to drive their own efforts and keep moving even faster. And they all have co-benefits to the communities they would serve – supporting jobs, lowering energy costs, and improving the health of residents.

The Can-Do Climate Actions cover several categories:

  • Energy Efficiency – these funds would provide grants to upgrade homes, businesses, nursing homes, and schools so that they can operate more efficiently, wasting less electricity and natural gas and cutting down on both emissions and power costs.
  • Solar – these funds would help schools and homeowners install solar panels, providing some of the same benefits as energy efficiency projects.
  • Transportation – these funds would help provide electric vehicles for transit services and school districts and provide rebates for purchasers of personal EVs. This electrification effort targets one of the top two sources for greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota, and it promises to improve community health. Electric buses emit none of the air pollutants that make people sick, and to which children are especially vulnerable.
  • Local government – these funds would help communities plan and move forward on their own efforts to reduce carbon emissions.
  • Natural resources and carbon storage – these funds would boost conservation of natural areas, efforts to combat and deal with Emerald Ash Borer, and research into carbon sequestration that relies on natural systems – all powerful tools to help Minnesota’s plantlife be part of the overall climate solution.

How to help these projects move forward

Lawmakers are increasingly recognizing the scope of the climate challenge we face, but we can’t take it for granted that climate legislation will pass this year. Virtually no energy legislation passed in the Legislature in 2019, and we don’t have time for another unproductive session. Here’s how you can help make sure the MN Can Do package moves forward:

  • Use our action alert system to email lawmakers and Governor Walz, asking them to support and prioritize these projects over the next several months
  • Call Governor Walz’s office at 651-201-3400 to ask that he include the Can-Do Climate Actions in his budget proposal.

It’s Minnesota’s time to lead boldly on climate action. We’ve talked about our emissions goals and joined the U.S. climate alliance – now let’s put our money where our mouth is.

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