Clean Energy Is Cutting Carbon Pollution in Minnesota

Environment Minnesota

Minneapolis, MN – As public concern about extreme weather grows, Minnesota is proving that we can win the fight against global warming. Clean energy policies, such as Minnesota’s renewable energy standard, are already significantly cutting emissions of carbon pollution — the leading cause of global warming — according to a new report by Environment America Research & Policy Center. The report, Moving America Forward, showed that Minnesota’s renewable energy standard reduced carbon pollution by at least 3.24 million metric tons in 2012. That is comparable to the annual emissions from 675,000 cars.

The report was released today at a gathering at Mayflower Church. Environment Minnesota was joined by Rep. Keith Ellison, Ellen Anderson, a senior energy and environment advisor for Gov. Mark Dayton, Rev. Sarah Campbell from Mayflower, and Chad Dipman from Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity.

“By using energy more efficiently and generating more power from clean, renewable sources, we are delivering a one-two punch in the fight against global warming,” said Environment Minnesota Advocate Samantha Chadwick. “We’ve proven that we have what it takes to protect our kids and grandkids from the worst impacts of climate change. And now we need firm limits on carbon pollution in order to deliver a knockout blow.”

Scientists say extreme weather, like the damaging hailstorm that hit the Twin Cities last August, foreshadows what could be a “new normal” of weather extremes. This new normal could threaten our children and future generations if we fail to act on climate. Coal- and gas-fired power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming.

“Climate change is already having far-reaching impacts we are only beginning to understand,” said Rep. Ellison. “As many of my colleagues in Congress refuse to address climate change, it is critical that local groups, city councils, and state governments take immediate action to curb greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for climate impacts.”

Environment Minnesota pointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s plan to move forward with limits on carbon pollution from power plants as the next step to fight global warming. Right now, the EPA limits arsenic, lead, soot and other pollution from power plants — but not carbon pollution. Power plants are America’s largest source of the carbon pollution fueling global warming, accounting for about 40 percent of total emissions.

Key findings from the report include:

  • Overall, Minnesota’s clean energy, energy efficiency, climate, and clean car policies reduced carbon emissions by over 7.2 million metric tons in 2012 — as much carbon pollution as 1.5 million cars produce in a year.
  • The renewable electricity standard has helped Minnesota develop enough renewable energy to offset as much carbon pollution as 675,000 cars produce in a year.
  • Energy efficiency policies have helped avoid as much carbon pollution as 666,667 cars produce in a year.
  • Limits on carbon pollution from power plants would build on Minnesota’s success in using wind, solar, and energy efficiency to reduce carbon pollution.

Rep. McCollum released this statement about the report: “Today’s report underscores an important truth – we must work towards finding clean, sustainable sources of energy. We have a responsibility to future generations of Minnesotans and Americans to be good stewards of our world’s natural resources. I take that responsibility to heart as I represent Minnesota’s Fourth District in Washington.”

Minnesota has already built on the policies in place in 2012, adding a solar energy standard last spring that will bring more than 30 times more solar power to the state by 2020.  “With Minnesota’s forward-thinking clean energy policies, we have led the way in building renewable energy jobs and helping mitigate climate change,” said Ellen Anderson, Senior Advisor on Energy & Environment in Governor Dayton’s administration.

Energy efficiency is also an important tool in cutting carbon emissions and implementing cost saving measure for Minnesotans. “Energy-efficiency is an important environmental goal for Twin Cities Habitat,” said Chad Dipman, a project manager with the organization. “We routinely build houses that are 20-25% more efficient than a typical new build in Minnesota, and have completed or are working on 16 LEED-certified houses.”

Mayflower Church, the location of today’s report release, recently installed over 200 solar panels on its roof and along the front of the building. “Mayflower is committed to being carbon neutral by 2030,” said Rev. Sarah Campbell, “We have already reduced carbon emissions 60% through our energy efficiency measures and installation of solar panels. Several state incentive programs allowed us to install our solar array, and we support increased incentives for everyone to take advantage of.”

Chadwick pointed to opposition from power companies, the coal industry, and other big polluters as a roadblock to action. Already, groups from the American Petroleum Institute to the National Mining Association have launched campaigns to block or undermine federal carbon limits.

Chadwick thanked Senators Klobuchar and Franken who joined the Senate’s new climate action task force and last week along with 30 other Senators, stayed up all night giving speeches on the floor demanding action on climate.

“With enough willpower, Minnesota can rise to any challenge. We’ve seen that climate solutions work – now it’s time for the next round, Chadwick concluded. “Our leaders can start by supporting the EPA’s plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants.”

The full report can be found here.


Environment Minnesota Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.