Climate change threatens the very things that make Minnesota a great place to live, from our magnificent 10,000 lakes to our farmable land and clean air. We must protect Minnesota’s way of life by putting our state at the forefront of finding innovative solutions to climate change. That is why my administration has taken action to combat climate change in ways that create jobs and ensure Minnesota is pioneering the Green Economy.
The transportation sector is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in our state. That is why I directed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency last week to implement clean car standards — requiring car manufacturers to provide more low-emission and electric vehicle options in Minnesota. Initial estimates indicate that this would reduce annual greenhouse gas emissions by 2 million tons by 2030.
While many Minnesotans want to drive electric vehicles, manufacturers offer less than half of their models here, and instead offer them in states that have adopted clean car standards. Implementing clean car standards in Minnesota will unleash this market in our state, save Minnesotans money at the pump, and create good-paying jobs as we build our electric vehicle infrastructure.
Increasing the use of biofuels is also critical to reducing greenhouse gas production in the transportation sector. But recent action at the federal level has undermined the use of biofuels and forced plants to shut down, including here in Winnebago, Minn. This is a punch in the gut to Minnesota farmers already reeling from ongoing trade wars.
As the chair of the Governor’s Biofuel Council, I sent a letter with Republican South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem to President Donald Trump urging him to support our agricultural communities and promote renewable fuels. To ensure that we are doing everything we can at the state level, I recently established the council to advise my administration on policies that will foster growth of Minnesota’s biofuel industry. The council will recommend ways to expand the use of biofuels, increase the carbon efficiency of biofuels and help move our state toward a cleaner, greener transportation sector.
Minnesota is known as a national leader in setting and achieving clean energy goals. Innovative companies such as Xcel Energy have already made historic commitments to deliver carbon-free electricity, because they know it’s the best way forward. Our entire state must follow this same path.
That’s why I unveiled a set of policy proposals this spring that will lead Minnesota to 100% clean energy in the state’s electricity sector by 2050. These new policies will not only ensure reliable, affordable and sustainable electricity for Minnesota, they will also give us a cleaner, healthier environment and a strong clean energy economy. Already, more than 59,000 Minnesotans work in clean energy, with 40% of these jobs in greater Minnesota.
Together, as One Minnesota, we can make a difference on climate. We can protect the Minnesota we know and love for generations to come. From performing the first open heart surgery to sparking a green revolution that fed millions, Minnesotans have always tackled our world’s greatest challenges. If Washington won’t lead, Minnesota will.
Tim Walz is governor of Minnesota.