New scorecard ranks Minnesota legislators on key climate votes
MN350 Action, national Climate Cabinet Action group praise climate champions and call on climate laggards to step up
October 20, 2021
[ST. PAUL] -- A total of 61 Minnesota state legislators received 100% climate scores and 101 received failing grades in the new Climate Cabinet Scorecard, released statewide today by Climate Cabinet Action in partnership with MN350 Action. The scorecard demonstrates that even as Minnesotans experience warmer winters, record-breaking air pollution from wildfires, more extreme rainfall events, and more severe droughts, there is a stark divide between legislators fighting for an equitable clean energy future and those fighting to help the fossil fuel industry protect its profits and deepen the climate crisis.
All 201 MN legislators were graded as part of the Climate Cabinet Scorecard, the first national tool to hold state legislators accountable for their votes on key legislation. Minnesota was one of 23 states evaluated.
The tool shows how all 67 senators and 134 representatives in Minnesota have voted on critical climate and environmental justice bills. This includes forward-looking votes that would have put Minnesota on a path to 100% renewable energy or created an environmental justice program to assess the unequal impacts of pollution on Minnesota communities. It also considers votes that would have taken Minnesota in the wrong direction -- for example, this year’s “pro-pollution” bill that would have blocked Minnesota from implementing Clean Cars Standards that have reduced carbon pollution in more than 15 other states.
Legislator scores range from 0, meaning a legislator never took a pro-climate vote, to 100, meaning the legislator voted to protect our climate in every instance. The scorecard found a clear partisan divide between climate champions and climate deniers: The average Minnesota Democrat’s score is 98, and the average Republican’s score is 14.
During the 2021 legislative session, the state House passed sweeping legislation to protect our climate for future generations. But most of the provisions were killed in the Republican-controlled state Senate. The same group of climate-denying senators twice in recent years defeated resolutions acknowledging that climate change is real and caused by burning fossil fuels.
"The impacts of extracting and burning fossil fuels are already being felt across Minnesota,” said Sen. Patricia Torres Ray of Minneapolis, whose votes earned a 100 score. “From warmer winters to more unpredictable rainfall patterns to the risks created by the Line 3 pipeline, we're putting our communities, ecosystems, and ways of life at risk. It doesn't have to be this way. Minnesotans are strongly in favor of wind and solar energy that will help us address climate change, but Republicans in the Senate are blocking these popular solutions. We need to pass clean energy policy and prioritize environmental justice now."
Sen. Lindsey Port of Burnsville also earned a score of 100. “We're already seeing the impacts of climate change here in Savage and Burnsville, from warmer winters to more extreme rainfall and drought,” Port said. “Minnesotans want wind and solar energy that will help us address climate change. We need accountability and action now."
Minnesotans are ready to act on climate change. A May poll by MN350 found that 66% of Minneostans surveyed think the number one goal of Minnesota’s energy policy should be to transition the state to 100% clean, renewable sources. 57% of Republicans surveyed said Minnesota should produce more solar energy. It’s clear that Republican legislators’ votes on climate are out of step with public opinion. We need all our elected officials to be fighting for a just and equitable clean energy transition.
“Minnesotans can’t escape noticing our seasons are drastically changing. They want clear legislation that helps protect Minnesota’s environment for ourselves and our children. This scorecard helps them hold legislators accountable to their votes on climate action,” said Noelle Cirisian, Policy Action Organizer at MN350 Action.
“State legislators make crucial decisions to advance or hold back climate action every day, yet this is the first time climate floor votes are nationally accessible to advocates, strategists, journalists and other Americans with a democratic stake in climate action. We created the tool we wanted to use,” says Caroline Spears, Climate Cabinet Action Executive Director. “With the Climate Cabinet Scorecard, we can hold state elected officials accountable for their votes and strategically target resources to the states where they will make the biggest difference for climate action.”
Climate Cabinet Action plans to release updated scores yearly to track progress.
Climate Cabinet Action helps candidates run, win, and legislate on the climate crisis. We support climate champions up and down the ballot to ensure every elected office in America is held by an official fighting for a just and equitable clean energy transition that creates jobs and makes life better for all Americans.
MN350 Action is the political and advocacy home for Minnesotans concerned about protecting our climate. It is the companion organization to MN350, a statewide group with 30,000 supporters working to make Minnesota a national leader in a just transition to a clean energy economy.