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Minnesotans support clean energy; elected officials need to keep up with them

 


Last week the St. Paul Pioneer Press published an op/ed by MN350 climate justice organizer Grant Stevensen calling on Gov. Tim Walz and other elected officials to catch up with Minnesotans’ demand for a cleaner energy system.

A recent poll sponsored by MN350 showed Minnesotans favor more clean energy by significant margins, but our elected officials are lagging behind in turning the will of the people into meaningful action. For instance both the governor and members of the Minnesota House supported and pushed a 100% clean energy bill last session, but the legislation was blocked by climate deniers in the Senate.

Those same senators are threatening to shut down Minnesota’s state parks and not fund more than 150 critical projects unless the governor reverses course on making Minnesota the 15th state in the nation to adopt clean car standards -- standards that will not only increase consumer choice and savings but also reduce climate pollution by 1 million tons annually. The op/ed also called on the governor to do more in promoting a bold climate justice agenda.

From the op/ed:

When it comes to addressing climate change, the real divide in Minnesota is not between regions or even voters of different parties, but between what most Minnesotans want and what their elected officials are willing to do.

Two-thirds of Minnesota voters right now support a statewide transition to 100% clean energy by 2050, according to a poll conducted last month by Climate Nexus, the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication. The poll was sponsored by my organization, MN350, an affiliate of 350.org and one of the leading climate justice groups in Minnesota.

The same proportion of eligible voters in Minnesota, 66%, supports legislation to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

There's no difference on these issues between Twin Cities voters and those in Greater Minnesota, it turns out. Among voters outside the Metro, 65% support fully transitioning to clean energy by 2050, and 68% support eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by that year.

Large majorities of independent voters also support both goals (63% and 66%, respectively). And more Republicans (46%) support greenhouse gas elimination than oppose it (40%). Republican voters are more evenly split on clean energy by 2050 — 46% in support, and 46% opposed — but, given Republican voter age demographics nationwide, clean energy may be the future of the party.

Either way, a clear bipartisan consensus emerges in this poll: A large majority of Minnesota voters (68%) wants the state to produce more solar power, including majorities of Republicans (54%), independents (70%), and Democrats (82%). Majorities across parties also believe clean energy will benefit the environment (68%), and favor state-provided training and wages for workers who lose their job in the oil and gas industry (76%).

In short, Gov. Tim Walz, who won his election by an 11-point margin in 2018, enjoys a bipartisan mandate for solar power, for an equitable transition to renewable energy, and for zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

 

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