Because the chief of Conservation Minnesota, a nonprofit that advocates for clear air, clear water, and open house for all Minnesotans, I enthusiastically congratulate the utility on this vital dedication.
It is a large growth for Minnesotans in every single place who love our outside and care about our warming local weather. If achieved, this dedication will make an actual and lasting affect by lowering greenhouse-gas emissions, lowering mercury air pollution that accumulates at unsafe ranges in Minnesota fish, and offering Minnesotans with cleaner air to breathe.
With this announcement, Minnesota Energy joins different main utilities like Xcel Vitality and Nice River Vitality, each of which earlier introduced variations of their very own commitments to 100% carbon-free vitality by mid-century.
Whereas quickly advancing clean-energy expertise actually performed an vital function in spurring these laudable commitments, a good better issue was client demand. Increasingly Minnesota ratepayers needed a response to their growing considerations round local weather change from the businesses they pay. In different phrases, public opinion demanded it, and that is the place public opinion could be a exceptional device.
Public opinion builds momentum. It’s one factor for a small environmental nonprofit to demand motion by the utilities to scale back local weather air pollution. It’s fully completely different when these not concerned in environmental advocacy begin anticipating their utility to do its half in offering cleaner vitality. That’s the reason I commend Minnesota Energy and the opposite giant utilities — for selecting up that Minnesotans need clear vitality as quickly as it’s dependable and reasonably priced.
A majority of Minnesotans anticipate their electrical utility to do its half to scale back carbon emissions. And as soon as a majority of Minnesotans anticipate one thing, elected officers and people regulated by state authorities begin paying consideration.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty acknowledged the early levels of that rising public opinion when he signed into legislation the 2007 Subsequent Era Vitality Act. Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged it when he proposed his personal insurance policies to place Minnesota on a path to 100% carbon-free vitality.
Within the coming months, we will anticipate President Joe Biden to place his personal stamp on that very same rising public opinion, reflecting how a majority of People need motion to scale back local weather air pollution and get us on a path to a 100% carbon-neutral financial system.
Minnesota’s state legislators have an vital function as properly. They’re properly positioned to assist information Minnesota Energy, GRE, and Xcel into the 100% carbon-free future. State legislators might help put vital benchmarks into legislation so utilities obtain their carbon-free objectives as rapidly as potential whereas making certain electrical energy stays reasonably priced and dependable for residents and companies alike. Minnesota legislators are additionally well-positioned to assist be certain that employees and communities who previously relied on fossil fuel-generating vegetation for employment and native authorities income have the chance to reap the advantages of the clean-energy transformation already underway.
Lastly, state lawmakers can comply with the management that the state’s largest utilities have proven in lowering carbon and local weather air pollution by making use of that ahead pondering to different sectors of Minnesota’s financial system that might want to comply with go well with: specifically, agriculture, emissions from lighting and heating buildings, and transportation, Minnesota’s largest sector of carbon emissions. Minnesotans anticipate nothing much less from our leaders.
So, congratulations once more to Minnesota Energy! Its dedication to 100% carbon-free vitality reveals that the place there’s a will, there’s a means in lowering local weather air pollution — even in assembly the intensive energy calls for of northern Minnesota.
However this doesn’t imply state lawmakers can shut that chapter of the guide. Fairly the opposite. Now could be the time for state lawmakers to turn into extra engaged in advancing Minnesota’s carbon-free and clean-energy coverage. Public opinion calls for it.
Paul Austin of Minneapolis is govt director of the nonprofit Conservation Minnesota (conservationminnesota.org).