Clean Energy, Clean Air, Climate, and Jobs
Due to pollution caused by fossil fuels, severe consequences of climate change are happening more rapidly than scientists previously believed. An October 2018 report by UN climate experts warns that carbon pollution must be cut by 45% within the next 12 years, and must be at zero within approximately 25 years, to avoid catastrophic outcomes. Significant climate changes have already occurred, disrupting agriculture, and causing or increasing hunger, poverty, drought, famines, and flooding. Warming has increased storm intensity, changed insect habitat and increased the rates of both Lyme disease and West Nile Virus in Minnesota. While working to cut carbon pollution, attention must also be focused on adaptation and resilience in communities locally and around the world.
Minnesota, along with many countries and states, has started transitioning to a clean energy economy, but that process needs to be greatly accelerated. Changes will be difficult for some industries and workers, so transition plans are necessary. Changes are also creating new economic opportunities, businesses and jobs. Minnesota has nearly achieved the 2007 Renewable Energy Standard of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025 for most utilities and 30 percent for Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy. Solar, wind and energy efficiency jobs are increasing rapidly, as reflected by more than 130 Minnesota companies that participate in various aspects of the clean energy supply chain. Renewable energy prices have fallen rapidly and continue to drop. Xcel Energy now plans to provide 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050 (80% carbon-free by 2030).
LA-MN is focused on education and legislation related to a) renewable energy, b) energy efficiency, and c) adaptation and mitigation to protect those who are most vulnerable in Minnesota and around the world.
Clean our Electricity, Increase our Efficiency
Lutheran Advocacy-MN supports these and is working to see some version pass the Minnesota House of Representatives and Minnesota Senate.
Two different bills set a goal of 100% Clean Energy by 2050
- Governor Walz’s Proposal: 100% Carbon Free Electricity Generation by 2050. (HF 1956, Long) Includes a Clean Energy First provision, establishes preference for local hiring and tools to guarantee a prevailing wage for those jobs. Increases Conservation Improvement Plan requirements from 1.5% to 1.75% year over year, and doubles utilities’ investments ($16-20 milion) in the homes of low-income Minnesotans.
Heard in the House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division on 3/12.
85% Renewable by 2035, 100% carbon free by 2050. (HF 700 ,Long + 52) (SF 850 , Frentz+4).
Benchmarks for Xcel are faster by 5 years in each instance. Redefines garbage burning as not renewable.
Heard in the House Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Division on 2/5.
Other Clean Energy/Climate Legislation
*Lutheran Advocacy-MN has no position on those items and doesn’t have the capacity to work on them.
*Leave No One Behind in this Transition
We must prioritize the communities most impacted by a changing climate and the transition away from fossil fuels.
- Improving Diversity in Utility Workforce (SF1489, Torres Ray)
- Improving DNR Diversity & Retention from communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the field. (HF 1655 Gomez, Becker-Finn, Wagenius, Lee) & (SF 372 Hawj, Simonson, Isaacson, Champion)
- Starting a Farm to School Program, increasing the availability of locally grown foods in Minnesota schools. (HF 811, Lippert, Poston, Brand, + 7) & (SF 1346 Goggin, Lang, Johnson, Dziedzic, Hawj)
* Address Agricultural Lands with New Crop Opportunities
Agriculture is our state’s largest source of greenhouse gas emissions. Keeping the land covered with living roots sequesters carbon rather than releasing it.
- Invest in Forever Green (HF 962 Brand, Poston +10) & (SF 134 Marty, Clausen, Frentz, Eken). The University of Minnesota’s research program that is developing the next generation of cropping systems – crops that are profitable and good for our soil, air and water. $5 m per year. Check out the Kernza root system!
Heard in House Ag and Food Policy & Finance 2/27
- Support the Supply to Market Chain for these New Crops (HF 1569 Lippert, Brand, Hansen, Persell) & (SF 1637 Ruud, Dibble). The Working Lands Drinking Water Protection Program will support all developing links in the supply chain to allow these new cropping systems (like Kernza) and the farmers who grow them to thrive.
Heard in House Env. & NR Policy & Finance 2/28, Water Division 3/11.
*Plant Trees and Prairie for Carbon Sequestration
- Restoring our Prairies (HF1413, Lippert) creates and funds a plan to convert brome and other state owned grasslands to prairie for better carbon sequestration.
- Planting One Million More Trees (HF 1299, Lippert).
This bill provides funding to support planting 1 million more trees every year for the next 4 years – the DNR plants 3 million trees each year already.
*Reduce Energy Costs for Schools
A perfect example of how reducing energy costs is a win for our climate and our other priorities!
- Solar on Schools. (HF1133, Acomb + 15) & (SF 1424 Dibble, Senjem, Simonson, Pratt, Hoffman)
Establishes grant program ($16 m. in House version, $3 million in Senate version) to build solar on schools.
These installations would help offset energy costs for schools – the second highest K-12 operating expense.
House: Heard by Energy and Climate Finance & Policy Division. Referred to Education Finance Division.
Senate: Heard by Energy and Utilities Finance & Policy. Referred to E-12 Finance and Policy.
- Energy Conservation in Schools. (HF 1148, Christensen, Acomb, Hornstein) & (SF 2016, Senjem). Loan fund allows school districts to make energy efficiency improvvements that reduce energy costs. House version appropriates $8 m. from the renewable development account for schools within Xcel territory, and $8 m. from the state’s general fund for schools outside of Xcel territory.
*Move Everything Else onto Electricity (Transportation, Heating)
Install electric vehicle infrastructure statewide.
- $8 m. to Dept. of Transportation. (HF 1737, Lippert, Hornstein, Wagenius, Long, Bierman) & (SF 1905, Senjem)
- $10 m. to Pollution Control Agency. (HF 1853, Lee) & ( SF 1904, Abeler)
Referred to House Env. & NR Finance. Division; Senate Env. & NR Policy and Legacy Finance. Committee.
Note: Gov. Walz’s budget invests $1.5 m. in EV infrastructure.
- $3 m. to Dept. of Commerce. (HF 2233, Long, Garofalo, Lippert, Hornstein, Stephenson, Pryor)
Expand and electrify Metro Transit Buses. Prioritize placement in communities with the most pollution.
- The Governor’s Budget proposes an 1/8 cent sales tax in 7-county metro to expand bus services and electrify at least 150 busses in the fleet.
- Prioritize new clean buses in areas with worst air quality. (HF 195 Lee + 21) & (SF 240, Dibble, Senjem +3)
Heard in the House Transportation Committee on 2/26.
Create a statewide beneficial electrification goal. Require reporting. ( HF 1866, Long) & (SF 2242, Dibble)
- Make it the goal of the state of Minnesota to electrify our transportation systems, homes and businesses. Require utilities to report every 2 years on how they are supporting electrification while prioritizing low-income communities. Heard in House Energy and Climate F&P Division on 3/7.
Minnesota’s History with Clean Energy
Video(s) of Ellen Anderson from Clean Energy & Climate Action Day Rally
Video snippets from J. Drake Hamilton at EcoFaith Clean Energy Summit last year
Why Lutherans Care for Creation: Building on our foundations in the ongoing reformation of the church
Background: Climate Change 101 (Caring for God’s Creation)
Background: 2018 IPCC Report and Caring for Creation
Background: Protecting Critical Environmental Programs (“For Such A Time as This…”)
Background: Climate and Resiliency (“For Such a Time as This…”)
Let’s Talk Faith and Climate: Communication Guidance for Faith Leaders
Awakening to God’s Call for Earthkeeping (Group Study Resource from the ELCA)
“For creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God.” Romans 8:19
A four-session small group study to encourage, empower, and equip Lutherans in their calling to care for creation. Caring for creation is an essential component of religious faith and witness. Faithful “earthkeeping” can deepen our relationship both with God and with one another, as we work for the healing of the world. This resource is downloadable at no cost at this ELCA link. For more specific information about earthkeeping and using this resource, you may contact the author, and ELCA Diaconal Minister, Kim Winchell, at KWinchellDM @aol.com.
Hunger and Climate Change: Agriculture and Food Security in a Changing Climate (Background Paper)
Climate Change: Poverty & Hunger in a Changing Climate (Background Paper)