Minnesota House Democrats on the Energy and Climate Finance and Policy Committee unveiled a $53 million omnibus bill this week to tackle climate change in the state.
According to a House press release, the omnibus package incorporates elements of 16 different bills that have been introduced this session and is sponsored by Rep. Jean Wagenius (DFL-Minneapolis), chair of the committee.
While introducing her bill, Wagenius claimed that research from the U.N. shows that “the world only has the next dozens years to sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions to head off the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.”
“The bill before you is a down payment on an effort to give young Minnesotans the kind of future they want and we want for them,” she said. “Dr. Mark Seeley said that Minnesota has experienced the most profound changes in the country due to climate change. He said the pace of change is unprecedented and well documented by science, and he said he could not overstate the problem.”
A new $16 million “Solar for Schools” program would receive the most funding from the $53 million bill. The program, initially proposed in a bill sponsored by Rep. Patty Acomb (DFL-Minnetonka), would provide grants to public schools to help them pay for the installation of solar energy systems on their buildings.
The Twin Cities Metropolitan Council would receive $8.8 million to help with the purchasing of electric buses, an idea first outlined in a bill sponsored by Rep. Zack Stephenson (DFL-Coon Rapids).
Minnesota State University and the University of Minnesota would receive $6 million a piece to help in their transitions to using renewable energy sources.
Over the course of the next two fiscal years, the Prairie Island community would receive a total of $5 million for its efforts to become carbon-free.
Other proposals in the package of bills include:
- $3.1 million in rebates for electric vehicle purchases
- $2.5 million in grants for electric vehicle charging stations
- $2 million to install solar energy devices in state parks
- $750,000 for community solar gardens
- $500,000 for electric school bus grants
“In our hearings, there’s been a general acknowledgment that we need to reduce carbon. That’s a good place to start,” Wagenius said. “This bill starts with Gov. [Tim] Walz’s 100 percent carbon-free standard by 2050. It features some very practical steps toward a carbon-free future.”
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