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:
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. It also promotes creation of local clean energy jobs.
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.
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.