Climate change is impacting all areas of life across Minnesota, and will change the very landscape of our state. We are already experiencing more extreme storms and flooding, increased instances of heat stress, and tree species and wildlife struggling to adapt to warmer weather. Unjustly, as is the case across the world, the impact of climate change hits Minnesota’s communities of color and low income communities the hardest.
Minnesota is one of the fastest warming U.S. states, and bold action is needed to protect Minnesotans and the natural beauty that defines our state. Avoiding the worst impacts of climate change requires a coordinated, economy-wide approach to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to clean technologies, and build resilience to weather the impacts that are already happening. This is a great challenge, but it is also a great opportunity.
Real steps forward.
106,000 tons per year
MCEA's win against Daley Farms in court in 2020 not only put the brakes on greenhouse gas pollution from an industrial feedlot, it secured new requirements for the MPCA to consider greenhouse gas emissions in environmental review of all projects.
700,000 tons per year
MCEA has won on every permit given to PolyMet's reckless proposal that we've appealed in court, including its air pollution permit. PolyMet's proposal relies on electrical power from a utility that relies heavily on coal and other fossil fuels.
2,700,000 tons per year
In 2020, MCEA appealed a new fracked gas plant, the Nemadji Trail Energy Center (NTEC), in the Twin Ports. We continue to work for clean energy alternatives to this proposal.
In 2023, MCEA was part of the coalition of groups and legislators that committed Minnesota to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040.
What's at Stake?
At a time when Minnesota needs to take bold action to reduce climate pollution, the three proposals highlighted above alone would have increased Minnesota's annual greenhouse emissions by 2.3%. These wins are a start, but solutions across every part of our economy are needed for Minnesota to do its part in the fight against the climate crisis. Minnesota must take action.
MCEA knows that we need to work in all areas to reduce Minnesota’s contribution to global climate change, and to lessen the impacts of climate change on our state. In the electric power sector, the clean energy transition has already begun in Minnesota. Coal use is declining, and renewable energy now accounts for over 25% of our electricity. Thanks in part to our work, coal plants across Minnesota are shutting down. Just recently, utilities serving Minnesota customers announced the early retirement of three more coal plants. MCEA will continue working to make sure that when these coal plants close they are replaced with clean and renewable resources, not fracked gas.
MCEA is also working to reduce emissions from transportation — now a larger source of greenhouse gas emissions than electrical generation in Minnesota — by supporting the transition to electric vehicles. Expanding access to cleaner cars and alternative modes of transportation saves households money and makes the air cleaner for all Minnesotans, particularly those living along major roadways.
Finally, we are working to start conversations about climate change across Minnesota’s economy. In the agricultural sector, MCEA won a case that required the Pollution Control Agency to analyze greenhouse gas emissions from a dairy farm for the first time. This is a big deal: agriculture is a significant source of emissions in Minnesota. Now, we are working to expand this win beyond the agricultural sector by ensuring that projects of all types that undergo environmental review in Minnesota include ways to mitigate greenhouse gas pollution.
Minnesotans are leaders. And, in the face of the climate crisis, we must rise to the occasion. Real progress is needed to protect our future and the future of our children. We must act now.
Ellen Anderson, MCEA's Climate Program Director