As chair of the Clean Energy and Climate Caucus (CECC), I am committed to striking a balance with clean energy solutions and legislation that protects our co-ops, ratepayers, and other utilities while still leading our state toward decarbonization. In southern Minnesota, we have a unique opportunity for wind and solar, and biomass.. Minnesota is ready to step forward.

There is tremendous potential job growth in rural Minnesota if we invest in renewable energy. Clean energy sources such as efficiency, wind, solar, and bioenergy are an effective way to provide a cleaner and healthier environment for Minnesotans. In addition to business growth, farmers can supplement their income by hosting this type of energy generation.

Climate change is an issue impacting everyone and needs bipartisan support if we are going to implement smart clean energy policies and combat the effects of climate change. As we have seen from the fires out west, the hurricanes pummeling the Gulf Coast, and torrential thunderstorms and flooding becoming regular events in the Midwest, we need to take action. My biggest critique of the Senate Energy Committee is their lack of willingness to hear public and expert testimony on bills that identify the costs of climate change we are all paying right now. This is a disservice to the legislature and the constituents we are elected to represent. Our purpose in committee is to be fact finders, not to wall off certain issues.

The science is clear and the destruction from climate change keeps getting worse. I believe Minnesotans are more than ready to move our state forward on energy policy and ready to partner with utilities, developers, and businesses. We are ready to find bipartisan solutions for sound tax policy to help businesses and jumpstart our economy after the pandemic. The potential is there. The compromises and solutions are viable and these solutions will benefit many sectors of our economy and society.

That’s why it is so important for me to reach across the aisle to help chart a realistic path to decarbonization, build a new and better clean energy economy, and enact policies that support diverse decarbonization technologies.

Additionally, we are fortunate to have a strong ally and leader on energy policy in Gov. Tim Walz. With his leadership and vision, I am hopeful in 2021 we can pass common-sense legislation like the Governor’s Clean Energy First Act, the ECO bill, and more. All these initiatives will help our local economy while improving our environment.

The fight against climate change is important for Minnesota agriculture too. We need to more aggressively promote expanded use of biofuels and, as a state, denounce federal waivers for big oil companies that operate small refineries. This has hurt southern Minnesota farmers this year. Also, we have seen a difficult few years for our farming communities with low commodity prices and changing markets due to unnecessary trade wars. This has led to a more fragile rural economy.

A recent report from the U.S. Senate Democrats Special Committee on the Climate Crisis indicates potential problems with long-term changes due to climate change such as: shifting growing zones, new pests and disease, soil erosion, and increased exhaustion among workers. These are issues I and many Minnesotans want to hear about.

Nick Frentz represents District 19, including St. Peter and the rest of Nicollet County, in the Minnesota Senate. Reach him at sen.nick.frentz@senate.mn.

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