By Matt Doll – Minnesota Environmental Partnership
On Monday, Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan announced a new plan to put Minnesota on the path to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050. Joined by legislators, state agencies leaders and advocates, including Executive Director Michael Noble of MEP member Fresh Energy, they declared their commitment to eliminating fossil fuels from Minnesota’s energy mix. The same day, Representative Jamie Long of Minneapolis introduced HF 1956, a bill that would establish the policy framework for the clean energy plan.
This legislation bill would carry out significant – and very achievable – positive steps on clean energy and climate action. Apart from the 2050 standard, it would require utilities seeking to install any new fossil fuel electricity generation to first prove that the power could not be feasibly generated by renewables – an unlikely proposition, given the plummeting costs of wind and solar power. It would ramp up incentives and support for energy efficiency upgrades, especially for low-income households. Taken together, the bill’s provisions would generate significant economic activity in an already rapidly-growing sector, creating job opportunities for Minnesotans around the state.
However, this plan is only part of the picture. It wouldn’t set intermediate benchmarks between now and 2050 – a decision that Governor Walz said was made to help ensure buy-in from utilities. And it only directly addresses electricity. Minnesota’s largest source of carbon emissions is now transportation, with agriculture not far behind.
But an increasingly carbon-free power grid will help lay the foundation for cleaning up emissions in those sectors as well, and Governor Walz vowed at the press conference to work simultaneously on reducing fossil fuels economy-wide.
While the consequences of climate change are becoming more evident, climate advocacy is on the rise as well throughout Minnesota, the nation, and the world. Ordinary citizens raising their voices have helped lead the governors of Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois to commit to 100% carbon free energy by 2050 in just the past few months.
At Clean Energy and Climate Action Day on March 13, MEP, our partners, and Minnesotans from around the state will continue leading this charge. We’ll be heading to the State Capitol to tell legislators to fully commit to clean energy and climate legislation that will make a real difference. The event will include trainings, a rally, and scheduled meetings with Senators and Representatives.
We urge all Minnesotans who know that it’s our state’s time to lead on climate action to join us for all or part of the day! This is our opportunity to build a transition to a clean economy that is ambitious, equitable, and joyful. We hope to see you on March 13.