The legislative session only has six days before the constitution tells them to quit working. There’s still work for the environment left to be done though. Here’s were a couple of things stand as I understand them.
Two Clean Energy Minnesota provisions are still in play these waning days. Energy Efficiency and Global Warming Solutions are both in the House Energy Omnibus bill, which passed last Friday. The efficiency language matches a bill the Senate passed 64 to 1 many weeks back, so it should remain unchanged. The global warming language may take more conversation in the conference committee, which I hear will first meet tomorrow (Wed) morning. Both the House and Senate bills say we need to reduce global warming pollution emissions 80 percent by 2050, which not so coincidently is also what the world’s scientists say. A process is already underway, initiated by Governor Pawlenty a few months ago, to examine ways of reducing Minnesota’s emissions. The House has decent language that basically says no more coal-burning power plants (amended Friday to exempt those currently under debate at the Public Utilities Commission) can be built until we have the reduction plan. This is a commonsense approach that would best be kept during the negotiations and I hope the House conferees will stay strong in protecting it.
The legislature only provided one-quarter of the funds necessary for cleaning up and protecting our lakes and rivers via Clean Water Legacy. Once again demonstrating that we need a long-term dedicated source of funds if we are going to protect our Great Outdoors. The Senate passed a version of the bill Friday by a vote of 52 to 14. A companion version, though different, has been hopping in the House. It is currently in the House Tax Committee, where I hear a final vote has been delayed as arms are twisted. There should be only a couple more stops before the House floor for this bill. Hopefully, a conference committee can work out details quickly that’ll be acceptable to all – including the voters.
There is still time to get this all done, but the legislators will definitely have to want it. If they succeed, this will prove to be a strong year for protecting Minnesota’s environment.