Notes from the July 15 EQB Meeting

By Molly Wilbur-Cohen

The Minnesota Environmental Quality Board held a meeting on July, 19th which I attended. Several presenters including J. Drake Hamilton of Fresh Energy, Dr. Roopali, Professor of Environmental Studies at Macalester College, Eliza Clark, Sustainability and Environmental Director at Anderson Corporation, David Thornton, Assistant Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Paul Moss, Climate Adaptation Coordinator of the MPCA, discussed how Minnesota is moving ahead with greenhouse gas reductions despite President Trump leaving the Paris Climate Agreement. Legally the United States can't leave the agreement until November 2020. Thanks to Governor Mark Dayton, Minnesota is one of 13 states in the US Climate Alliance, which also includes mayors from non-member states. The Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce is having discussions with utilities around the state to move toward renewables.

Under the Minnesota Next Generation Act, the state will keep on the Clean Power Plan, move the transportation sector toward using more clean energy, review the actions of the Deep Decarbonization Pathways Project (which is the global collaboration of scientific research teams in 16 of the world's largest greenhouse gas emitting countries), and continue with plans for adaptation and resilience. Information from the Health Equity Data Analysis shows that young people of today will not have as long a life span as people had in the past because of climate change.

Minnesota has moved from 60% coal energy in 2012 to 39% coal in 2016, an increase of 20% clean energy. By 2025, Minnesota is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% and 80% by 2050. People who have worked in fossil fuel jobs will need to be trained for clean energy jobs in solar and wind. Recently the CEO of Xcel Energy has pledged that the company will use 60% carbon free energy in all the states where they furnish energy by 2030. Ecolab, a global Fortune 500 company in St. Paul, signed up in 2013 to go solar and now has 15,000 solar panels installed. Anderson Windows, with corporate headquarters in Bayport, Minnesota, is a founding member of Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition and is powered by 100% clean renewable energy.

This meeting at the EQB provided a lot of important up to date information on how Minnesota is moving ahead with reducing greenhouse gases by replacing energy from fossil fuels with clean renewables. Stay tuned for future meetings and find out how you can get involved in advancing climate action at the local level. (Note: Molly recently agreed to lead the Social Action Team’s climate change advocacy efforts.—Ed)