April 14, 2011
Written by Nancy Lange
Energy Program Director, Izaak Walton League of America – Midwest Office
Who thinks importing more coal power from North Dakota is just the ticket for Minnesota? Minnesota’s State Senators, that’s who. Today, 42 Minnesota State Senators voted to lift restrictions on new coal power projects, signaling that Minnesota is ready to send even more of our energy dollars over the border to North Dakota and other coal producing states. Already we are sending $500 million to North Dakota and Wyoming to purchase coal. Saying “yes” to new coal is committing our state to an expensive and polluting source of energy and it’s pulling Minnesota off track from its clean energy goals.
Minnesota’s restrictions on new coal projects were put in place in 2007 as part of the Next Generation Energy Act, which passed with broad, bipartisan support and was signed into law by Gov. Tim Pawlenty. This visionary legislation poured new momentum into our clean energy economy with a nation-leading Renewable Electricity Standard, strengthened energy efficiency goals and established greenhouse gas emission reduction targets for the state. Today, these policies are driving innovation and directing investments in local, clean energy resources. In the wind energy sector alone, 2,000-3,000 jobs are supported each year in Minnesota as a result of these policies.
In 2007, lawmakers understood that it made no sense to welcome more pollution from new coal projects, while they were making investments in clean energy resources, like wind, solar, and energy efficiency – progress that can easily be erased by the emissions from just one large coal plant.
We don’t need to open our doors to more coal power, its higher costs and the increased pollution. We hope that if this legislation reaches Governor Mark Dayton, he vetoes this bad bill and keeps Minnesota on track by growing investments in clean energy resources that create Minnesota jobs in local communities.