We reject these simple, binary stories, and we hope you will, too.
Did you know that more than two out of every three Minnesotans think there should be strict limits on how much carbon dioxide, perhaps the most-common greenhouse gas, gets emitted from coal-fired power plants? In fact, the Yale Climate Opinions Map found a majority of Minnesotans in every county in the state in support of limiting carbon-dioxide emissions, including in Itasca County, home of Minnesota Power’s Boswell coal power plant.
Similarly, a MN350 poll found that “roughly two-thirds (66%) of Minnesotans (who are registered voters) think the No. 1 goal of Minnesota’s energy policy should be transitioning 100% of the state’s energy to clean, renewable sources.”
Fortunately, we don’t have to choose between addressing the climate crisis or championing Minnesota workers. The alternatives are not transitioning to clean energy or supporting Minnesota businesses. We are not faced with protecting our natural resources or receiving reliable and affordable electricity. We can do all those things and more.
But we can’t do those things if Minnesota continues to throw money at fossil gas. Fortunately, Xcel Energy, Minnesota’s largest utility, recently announced it will not be building a new gas plant in Becker, Minnesota, as had been proposed. Instead, the utility is expanding its investment in clean renewable energy. It took advocates and community members from across Minnesota to help convince Xcel Energy to change its plans.
Unfortunately, Minnesota Power, Minnesota’s second-largest utility, still wants to partner with Dairyland Power and build a new fossil gas plant in Superior. This would be a bad deal for Minnesota and could cost customers hundreds of millions of dollars, commit us to burning fossil fuels for decades to come, and threaten both our air and our health. Not only would this plant threaten our future (and blatantly contradict the promise Minnesota Power has made to shift to renewable energy by 2050), it would threaten our present: The climate crisis is here and is hurting people right now, especially marginalized communities like the disability community.
While the climate crisis is here right now, we can still change our future. We still have time to choose clean energy instead and commit to what Minnesotans want: renewable, reliable, affordable energy that costs less than burning fossil fuels, that boosts our green-energy economy, that is better for our environment and health, and that will continue to show the Midwest and the world that Minnesota is a clean-energy leader.
Izzy Laderman of Duluth is a disabled climate activist who will be moving to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota. Rose Thelen of Clearwater, Minnesota, is an opponent of Xcel Energy’s proposed fossil gas plant in Becker, Minnesota. They wrote this for the News Tribune.