Guide to Climate Justice Legislation

DURING THE 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION, we’re focused on advancing the MN350 Action Climate Justice Agenda. We created the agenda with input from all of MN350 Action’s campaigns and teams. Our members were clear: We need a comprehensive vision to confront the interconnected crises of climate change and racial injustice, and we have no time to waste putting the agenda into action. 

 

We invite supporters to stay informed about the progress of climate justice bills and to engage with state leaders as we work together to build power for an equitable clean energy future.

 

MN350 Action will be marshalling advocacy and inviting supporters to contact legislators to support or oppose several bills:

 

The Legislature in 2019 created the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s (MMIW) Task Force with unanimous bipartisan support. The task force issued its report to the Legislature in December, with recommendations for state action to solve the injustices of MMIW and to end violence against Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people in Minnesota.  During the 2021 session, task force authors will follow the report’s recommendations to craft legislation and funding requests. MN350 Action strongly supports the task force’s work to identify causes and solutions for the MMIW epidemic. We are asking state legislators to:
  • Follow the recommendations of the MMIW Task Force, including appropriating requested funds and supporting related legislation
  • Continually review and improve jurisdictional issues between Native nations and Minnesota state government to ensure timely and effective coordination to protect and defend Native lives.
MN350 Action endorses the work of the House Select Committee on Racial Justice, established during the 2020 session to address racism as a public health crisis and to ensure racial equity is prioritized  in all House legislative efforts. The committee of representatives has met several times, exploring how to boost the state’s efforts to understand, address, and dismantle racism and to educate Minnesotans about the effects of racism on public health, family stability, early childhood education, economic development, public safety, housing, and the delivery of human services. The committee released its report to the full Legislature in December. MN350 Action is organizing to raise awareness for the report and to hold legislators accountable for following its recommendations.

MN350 Action supports the 100% Bill, which requires all Minnesota electricity to be generated from 55% renewable energy by 2035 and to be carbon free by 2040. Just as important, it sets a high bar for climate action for other states to follow. Legislators read the bill last month in the House, then referred to the House Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee, which met and heard testimony.

We made history in 2019 when the House voted for the first time to pass 100% legislation, but the final omnibus bill was blocked by the Senate. Rep. Jamie Long of Minneapolis has introduced the measure again this session, with an electric utility renewable energy standard that includes a carbon-free energy requirement of 65% by 2025, increasing steadily to 100% by 2040. MN350 Action is partnering with the 100% Campaign to monitor and promote the measure as it moves through the Legislature.

 

This year’s Clean Energy First bill is based on an earlier version introduced by Gov. Walz in 2019 that passed in the House but failed in the Senate. MN350 Action supports the House bill, which requires utilities to prioritize clean energy sources rather than fossil fuels when replacing old facilities or adding new power generation. It also promotes creation of local clean energy jobs.

 

MN350 Action opposed a 2020 Senate version of the bill, also called Clean Energy First, which undermined the aims of the House bill by defining “clean energy” to include dirty sources like garbage burning, nuclear power, and coal and gas plants that capture only 80% of emissions and use them to extract more fossil fuels. The Senate bill included a number of loopholes, such as allowing utilities to build fossil fuel plants out of state. MN350 Action is watching for the possible reintroduction of a Senate version this session.

 

The Energy Conservation and Optimization Act (ECO) is a long-needed update to our state’s energy conservation program. MN350 Action supports this bill, which has made it out of both House and Senate Committees and will be voted upon by the entire House and Senate. ECO would require most utilities to increase the percentage of their annual operating revenue invested in energy conservation.

That includes a shift toward innovative clean technologies in energy production, efficient switching between fuel sources, and improved load management. ECO also would require public utilities to provide energy conservation programs to low-income households. Upgrades that impact our state’s energy efficiency will save consumers and businesses millions of dollars.

ECO has bipartisan support but faces opposition from a propane dealers trade group and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which has a long history of fronting for the fossil fuel industry and blocking common-sense energy policy in Minnesota.


CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS

MN350 Action leads the campaign behind the Headwaters Community Food and Water Bill. The industrial food system generates 26% of our greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota and is dependent on extractive practices that destroy ecosystems and communities alike — and it’s paid for with our tax dollars. Now is the time to invest in a food system that nourishes the earth, its people, and our communities while meeting the challenges posed by climate change. The Headwaters Bill provides the funding and infrastructure we need to establish a resilient, regenerative, and racially-just food system in Minnesota — in other words, it puts our money where our mouths are and provides future generations with a legacy we can be proud of. Add your name to get updates on the bill’s progress and find out how you can help:  

Two anti-protest bills promote the legally dubious concept of “vicarious liability” — or what MN350 Action and other opponents call “guilty by association.” These chilling and patently unconstitutional measures have been introduced in the House and are expected to make appearances in the Senate. They would classify as a felony, with significant fines and prison terms, entering or being found on the site of “a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline . . . with the intent to disrupt the construction, operation, or provision of services by the facility, utility, or pipeline.”

The far-right American Legislative Exchange Council, a front group for fossil fuel interests, is the behind-the-scenes source of these bills. Almost identical versions have been passed in several other states. Similar measures have been introduced and defeated in Minnesota during previous sessions. The explicit criminalization of disrupting construction is new this session and quite obviously targets Line 3 protestors. The bills also seek to impose significant fines on “conspiring” organizations, relying on vague and legally dubious definitions.

Existing Minnesota law already adequately covers penalties for damaging critical infrastructure. This is a dangerous and blatant attempt to significantly lower the threshold for prosecution of peaceful protesters. It also works to criminalize free speech and assembly rights of Indigenous water protectors and other Minnesotans who oppose pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure. It would intimidate protesters and inhibit legitimate protest.

MN350 Action has long supported Clean Cars Minnesota, a common-sense proposal from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency that would, among other things, reduce air pollution in our communities, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and pave the way for more efficient gas cars as well as vehicles that run on carbon-free electricity. Win-win-win, right? Well, while you may have heard about the initiative’s promise, a group of state senators and representatives are currently attempting to gut this rule, and they’re supported by the Minnesota Auto Dealers Association.

Opponents started by waging a disinformation campaign and then in January introduced bills in both the state House and Senate: H.F. 395 and S.F 450. Both seek to strip the PCA of its authority to limit air contaminants produced by motor vehicles, allowing pollution and emissions to continue hurting everyday Minnesotans despite automakers already having the technology to decrease both. We strongly oppose these bills and will keep you updated on how to keep Clean Cars Minnesota on track.

MN350 Action submitted written testimony urging a state Senate committee to block this bill.

CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE

Minnesota farmers face the compounding challenges of extreme weather, financial crisis, and degrading topsoil. Pollution from agriculture is a leading source of water quality contamination of rivers, lakes, wetlands, and groundwater. Current farming practices can lead to tremendous loss of organic carbon in the soil and to increases in greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.  MN350 Action is partnering with the Land Stewardship Project, which has a long history of working with Minnesota farmers, to support a Soil Healthy Farming Bill. The bill would reduce pollution, increase carbon sequestration, and improve the long-term economics of farming. “Socially disadvantaged” and small and midsized farmers would be prioritized to receive the benefits of these scientifically supported and practice-proven methods. The bill boosts a variety of soil healthy practices with accessible grants, direct payments, equipment sharing, and measures to track soil health. MN350 Action urges supporters to sign a soil-healthy farming petition the Land Stewardship Project plans to deliver to Gov. Walz, agency leaders, and legislative leadership. No matter where we live, we all benefit from a sustainable farm and food system that improves the health of our climate and our planet.
The Natural Gas Innovation Act , sometimes referred to as the RNG Act, encourages natural gas utilities to develop alternative resources. It would allow them to use renewable natural gas (RNG) produced by capturing methane from food waste, agriculture manure, and wastewater. In addition, it would permit natural gas utilities to create hydrogen for injection into a natural gas utility or interstate pipeline system. RNG is 10 times more expensive than fossil gas. While RNG emits less carbon than fossil gas, MN350 Action supports less expensive alternatives such as electrification, which is more cost-effective and doesn’t have the negative health impacts of burning gas in homes. In November 2020, the Public Utilities Commission agreed to let CenterPoint allow RNG suppliers to connect with its interstate pipeline system and distribute RNG to other states.
Minnesota’s road map for addressing the climate crisis is out of date and it is impeding our ability to protect our climate. In 2007, the Minnesota Legislature passed the bipartisan Next Generation Energy Act which committed the state to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 80% by 2050. That was 14 years ago. While some states such as California have aggressively transformed their transportation and energy policies, Minnesota hasn’t been as quick to take needed action. We have only achieved an 18% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions when we committed to achieving a 30% reduction by 2025. Worse, we now recognize that more rapid reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are needed to safeguard our ability to live on this planet. Scientific data from the 2020 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change confirm the need to reduce 100% of greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050. That’s why MN350 Action supports the new Next Generation Climate Act to accelerate the pace for achieving Minnesota’s greenhouse gas reduction targetsThe Next Generation Climate Act would require Minnesota to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 45% by 2030 and 100% by 2050. This bill is critical for establishing the parameters that will guide the state in transforming our climate, energy and transportation policy in coming years. Use our simple form to ask your legislators to support the Next Generation Climate Act. CONTACT YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
The Minnesota Innovation Finance Authority proposed in this bill is an independent, nonprofit corporation that would provide direct financing and leverage private investment for energy efficiency and clean energy projects. MN350 supports this bill because this new source of funding could create green jobs and make clean energy deployment happen faster and could provide affordable financing to farmers and minority communities to fund projects that can improve health and environmental outcomes.