Minnesota State Democrats introduce Green New Deal

Source: Ines Kagubare, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, April 15, 2019

Minnesota state lawmakers introduced a version of the Green New Deal, a sweeping plan that aims to reduce emissions and transition the state to a green economy.

But like the federal Green New Deal resolution, the bill is aspirational and lacks concrete steps to achieve most of its goals.

It would, however, create an advisory council to identify ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change and develop adaptation plans.

Bill co-sponsors state Rep. Frank Hornstein and state Sen. Scott Dibble, who are both Democrats, announced their ambitious plan Wednesday during a press conference at the state Capitol. MN Can’t Wait, a grassroots campaign of students that came up with the idea for and helped develop the bill, joined the lawmakers.

“The goal is to rapidly accelerate our transition to a green energy economy,” Hornstein said.

Hornstein said the legislation would strengthen and expand climate initiatives that the state has already put in place. The bill would set a goal for the utility sector — which has significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions — of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2030.

The measure also calls for significantly reducing carbon emissions in the transportation and agriculture sectors with the aim of reaching net-zero emissions by 2030. Currently, transportation is the top source of greenhouse gas emissions, and the fastest-growing, in Minnesota.

“We still have ways to go,” Hornstein said.

The initiative takes other elements from the federal Green New Deal, including ensuring fair wages and union rights and establishing job-training programs for workers transitioning to renewable energy jobs.

The bill is likely to face resistance in the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate.

“I do think that Republicans in Congress in Washington, and certainly the ones in St. Paul, are a little out of step [on climate change], even with their own constituency,” Hornstein said.

The bill is unlikely to get a formal committee vote this year but may receive a hearing. It may be considered again next year when the state Legislature reconvenes in March.

State Republicans did not respond to requests for comment.