by Anthony Gockowski
The Minnesota House passed legislation after seven hours of debate late Thursday night that would require the state’s electricity grid to be 100% carbon-free in 17 years.
This is an unrealistic timeline that could endanger the lives of Minnesotans if it fails while causing their electricity bills to skyrocket, Republicans argued throughout the night.
They unsuccessfully offered several amendments to the bill, including lifting the state’s moratorium on new nuclear power plants, allowing for the use of carbon sequestration technologies, and delaying the standard to consider its impact on child and slave labor in the green energy supply chain.
Rep. Kaela Berg says it is “offensive” to her “black and brown colleagues” to discuss the use of child and slave labor in the green energy industry. pic.twitter.com/x1wZK6twuV
— Alpha News (@AlphaNewsMN) January 27, 2023
“Frankly, what this bill will be doing today is making Minnesota reliant on nations around the globe that have no labor standards and no environmental standards. Minnesota in this bill will build a clean grid economy on the backs of child slaves in China and poor environmental regulations in Indonesia and the Congo,” Rep. Spencer Igo, R-Wabana Township, said at a press conference ahead of the debate.
He said the resources to build a clean energy future are right in Minnesota’s backyard, yet the federal government has now banned mining on 250,000 acres of the Iron Range.
“The third-largest deposits of copper, nickel and cobalt that exist in the known world are only 250 miles north of this Capitol. Instead of investing in those resources … we have decided to export it around the world where carbon emissions will be 20, 25, or 30 times higher than if we were to do it here in Minnesota,” he continued.
They also expressed concern with the fact that the bill was only heard in one committee before moving to the floor.
Republicans have nicknamed the legislation the “blackout bill,” arguing that using wind and solar alone is unreliable.
“We want to make sure that in Minnesota we are never in a situation where we are having rolling blackouts because here in Minnesota that creates unsafe and dangerous environments,” said Rep. Anne Neu Brindley, R-North Branch, who noted that it took 29 years to reach roughly 20% carbon-free energy in Minnesota.
“In the next 17 years, we have to get to 100%, and we’re not going to do it with nuclear. We’re not really going to do it with hydro. We’re not going to do it with natural gas, we’re not going to do it with clean coal, we’re not going to do it with carbon capture,” she said. “We’re going to do this with wind and solar.”
House Majority Leader Jamie Long, DFL-Minneapolis, lead author of the bill, said addressing climate change is a top concern of Minnesota voters.
“Minnesotans are demanding we take action on climate change,” he said during a press conference. “In my lifetime, the average January low temperature in Minnesota has warmed by nine degrees. These changes are having real impacts, they’re having impacts on our way of life.”
“We also know that it’s having more serious impacts like the severe rain events that we are seeing with increasing frequency on our farms and in our communities and infrastructure,” he said.
Long claimed his bill provides flexibility for utilities and is “technology neutral,” though Republicans disagreed with that claim.
The bill passed in a vote of 70-60 and will now head to the Minnesota Senate.
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Anthony Gockowski is Editor-in-Chief of Alpha News. He previously worked as an editor for The Minnesota Sun and Campus Reform, and reported for The Daily Caller.
Photo “Xcel Energy’s Sherco Power Plant” by MPCA Photos. CC BY-NC 2.0.