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Gov. Walz isn't making the grade for climate, communities

Release of midterm climate report card finds lots of talk, little action


April 16, 2021

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- One week before Earth Day, a coalition of Minnesota environmental, worker, Indigenous and progressive groups today released a midterm climate report card grading Gov. Tim Walz on his actions to ensure a sustainable and equitable future for Minnesota. Unfortunately, the report card found that Gov. Walz’s actions fall short of the bold and decisive measures needed to respond to the climate crisis. In nine categories, Gov. Walz received a failing grade in six, an incomplete in one, and only two passing grades.

The report card is available at

Minnesotans care about protecting each other and our climate. We are issuing midterm climate grades with a call to the governor: Minnesotans are depending on you to pull up your grades! We deserve “straight A” leadership.

We want to believe Gov. Walz when he says that he shares our values of caring for the earth and shares our commitment to creating a sustainable and renewable future for the people of Minnesota. But Gov. Walz is falling short of his abilities. The urgency and possibility of this moment call for bold action and transformative solutions, especially as the impacts of the climate crisis are amplified by existing structural racism, and often hit hardest in communities of color. We need Gov. Walz to do more for the climate, and we look forward to partnering with him to build a vibrant and healthy state where Minnesotans of all classes, races, histories, and identities grow and thrive together, today and in the future.

The report card was researched and written by: Clean Water Action, Climate Generation, COPAL, CTUL, Duluth Youth for Climate Justice, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Land Stewardship Project, League of Women Voters, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, MN350, Ojibwes for Responsible Government, Sierra Club, Sunrise Movement, TakeAction, and Water Legacy.

“This report card explains why we have been so disappointed in the Walz administration,” said Sam Grant, Executive Director of MN350. “Individually and as organizations, we worked hard to elect a governor who understands that climate justice is not a fringe issue but at the heart of us ever being able to truly be ‘one Minnesota.’ Our climate is changing faster in Minnesota than almost anywhere else in the country. Here as everywhere else, people of color, including Indigenous people, are being impacted first and worst. Part of our goal with this campaign is to counter the conviction Minnesotans have that our state is leading the country in protecting our climate. The reality is Minnesota hasn’t passed a significant piece of climate legislation since 2007. We’re falling way behind other states. It is unacceptable for Minnesota’s governor to not be a national leader on these issues so central to our future.”

“As we release Gov. Walz’s climate grades in advance of Earth Day, we are calling on him for more ambitious leadership on renewable, equitable energy and addressing the ongoing climate crisis across all sources of carbon pollution,” said Margaret Levin from the Sierra Club, North Star Chapter. “We are all dealing with intersecting ecological and social crises because many corporate and political leaders treat Black, Brown and Indigenous communities, poor people and the natural world as disposable. Gov. Walz has spoken about the importance of these issues – we need him to back that speech with action, and be a champion for climate action and climate justice. This moment demands nothing less.”

“In these transformational times, we can’t address the multiple, interrelated crises our state faces one at a time,” said Steve Morse, Executive Director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. “None of them can wait. Now is the time for leadership to urgently address racial injustice, the climate crisis and COVID. We believe Gov. Walz has good intent and is headed in the right direction, but there needs to be a midcourse correction to dramatically ramp up the pace and scale of the state response to the climate crisis. And there are many actions offered here that he can take to address multiple systemic problems simultaneously.”

“As my congressman, Gov. Walz was a champion for sustainable agriculture. As governor, we need him to step it up. He has a unique opportunity to build resiliency for the land, farmers, rural communities, and all Minnesotans. I urge Gov. Walz to prioritize landscape-scale investments into soil-healthy farming and use his power as governor to curb consolidation in the agricultural sector,” said Martin Larsen, a crop and livestock farmer in Olmsted County and Land Stewardship Project member leader.

“Gov. Walz has been a leader when it comes to getting every Minnesotan vaccinated and making sure we are truly beating this pandemic,” said Marco Hernandez, Public Policy Director of COPAL. “The Governor needs to realize the climate crisis also plays a huge role when it comes to public health. There are too many communities of color and low socioeconomic communities situated near trash incinerators, metal foundries, and petroleum refineries. The chemicals emitted from these facilities weaken people’s immune system and makes them more susceptible to COVID-19 and other diseases. Minnesota needs a leader who sees these connections and takes efficient actions to tackle the climate crisis in the same way the state has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.8 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit

About MN350

MN350 is a statewide organization working to make Minnesota a national leader in a just transition to a clean energy economy. MN350 Action is its political and advocacy arm. For more information visit and

About the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

The Minnesota Environmental Partnership is a statewide coalition of environmental and conservation nonprofits. Together, our coalition members and supporters work for clean energy, clean water, and clean transportation through policy initiatives, public education, and community events. For more information, visit

About the Land Stewardship Project

The Land Stewardship Project is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1982 to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop sustainable communities. LSP is dedicated to creating transformational change in our food and farming system. LSP's work has a broad and deep impact, from new farmer training and local organizing, to federal policy and community based food systems development. At the core of all our work are the values of stewardship, justice and democracy. For more information, visit


COPAL, or Communities Organizing Latinx Power and Action, works to unite Latinxs in Minnesota in active grassroots communal democracy that builds racial, gender, social and economic justice across community lines. COPAL’s vision is to build a world that is just, equitable, enjoyable and environmentally sustainable for all. For more information, visit


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