On February 10, the U.S. Supreme Court placed a hold on the Clean Power Plan until the merits of the rule are decided. While 19 states have suspended compliance planning, 19 other states, including Minnesota, have decided to move forward, according to E&E Publishing. This effort has been manifested through impressive leadership from Governor Dayton and strong public engagement efforts.
Governor Dayton leads
Last week at a Youth Summit in St. Paul, Governor Dayton promised to veto any legislation blocking or slowing efforts related to the Clean Power Plan.
Dayton addressed questions from 75 high school and college students, also stating that he would “like to see Minnesota’s dependence on coal eliminated” as soon as possible. The summit was focused on advocating for a strong and just Clean Power Plan. Youth also met with their legislators to voice their ideas around equitable implementation of the plan.
Governor Dayton also spoke highly of the Clean Power Plan in the annual State of the State address on March 9. He addressed the Supreme Court stay but noted that developing clean energy to help address the impacts of climate change—which are already being seen by Minnesotans—is too important to put on hold. Decreased snow fall hurting the winter tourism industry, unpredictable growing seasons for farming, and air and water pollution—these are just the beginning of the impacts that Minnesotans have started to see from the effects of burning dirty fossil fuels.
Strong public engagement
Not only is Minnesota pledging to continue working on the Clean Power Plan, but it is acting on its pledge as well. In February and March the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency held eight Clean Power Plan listening sessions across the state to get input from residents about their priorities in shaping Minnesota’s compliance plan.
Each listening session had around 50-100 Minnesotans present, many of them testifying in support of the Clean Power Plan and clean energy development. At the Duluth session, almost the entirety of the audience supported action on climate—in fact, many commented that the plan should go further, faster. Attendees at the Bemidji session questioned the cost of the complying with the Clean Power Plan, while others argued that coal generation will be phased out over time with or without the Clean Power Plan due to market factors like low natural gas prices and the declining costs of wind and solar.
New UCS analysis shows that Minnesota stands to gain
Analysis released by the Union of Concerned Scientists last month shows that Minnesota stands to make major economic gains from the Clean Power Plan, especially when accompanied with increases in the renewable energy standard (RES) and energy efficiency standard (EERS). Prioritizing renewable energy and energy efficiency in Minnesota’s Clean Power Plan compliance plan will maximize the full range of benefits for all Minnesotans.
Our analysis found that combining the Clean Power Plan with a stronger state renewable electricity standard of 40 percent by 2030 and an energy efficiency resource standard that reduces electricity demand by 2 percent per year for all utilities would result in the greatest economic and public health benefits for Minnesota.
For example, this approach would inject more than $5.6 billion in new investments in wind, solar, and energy efficiency projects in Minnesota’s economy between 2016 and 2030, while reducing electricity expenditures for residents and businesses by $745 million.
Pollution control agency filing highlights Minnesota’s progress
In a required filing released earlier this week, the Pollution Control Agency and Department of Commerce explain how they continue to work on Clean Power Plan planning in order to ensure that Minnesota is well-positioned for any litigation outcomes of the Supreme Court ruling.
Sent to energy committee chair leaders and minority chairs, the filing highlighted the extensive technical stakeholder engagement and robust public outreach that Minnesota is already engaging in. It also mentioned that Minnesota is primarily considering trading-ready approaches and expects to participate in the Clean Energy Incentive Program.
Why Minnesota’s leadership is important
While 19 states have indicated that they are moving forward with Clean Power Plan planning, very few are as far along as Minnesota.
Minnesota’s comprehensive and inclusive process with strong public engagement provides an excellent model for other states to replicate. We applaud Governor Dayton and Minnesota regulators for the hard work and dedication to move forward on the Clean Power Plan in order to most effectively plan for Minnesota’s clean energy future.
Support from UCS members make work like this possible. Will you join us? Help UCS advance independent science for a healthy environment and a safer world.