While other states and critics of the Obama administration have howled about complying with its proposed rule slashing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, Minnesota has been reining in its utilities’ carbon pollution for decades — not painlessly, but without breaking much of a sweat, either.Well, thanks to Tea Party goons here, Ohio just scrapped our renewable energy requirements. Nothing like leading from behind. If Ohio Republicans can't make us more like Mississippi, they will at least make us more like Indiana, the Mississippi of the North.
Today, Minnesota gets more of its power from wind than all but four other states, and the amount of coal burned at power plants has dropped by more than a third from its 2003 peak. And while electricity consumption per person has been slowly falling nationwide for the last five years, Minnesota’s decline is steeper than the average.
The Obama administration’s proposal would reduce power plants’ carbon pollution 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. Minnesota set similar nonbinding goals for its entire economy seven years ago: a 15 percent reduction by 2015, 25 percent by 2025 and 80 percent by 2050. (Minnesota measures carbon differently; by federal standards, its reductions would most likely be greater.)
The state swings some regulatory sticks in its carbon-cutting effort. Minnesota has not only set deadlines for utilities to increase the amount of electricity generated from renewable sources, but it has also required minimum shares for certain renewables like wind and solar energy. Minneapolis, which issued a hefty clean energy blueprint in February, is using its utility franchise negotiations to bargain for further carbon-cutting measures.
But it dangles carrots, too. Voracious power consumers like iron ore mines, for example, can sidestep a regulatory mandate by showing a commitment to reducing electricity use. And the state jump-starts green energy efforts by striking deals with utilities: This year, the state and its private utilities agreed to jolt the slow-growing electric-automobile market by offering discount recharging rates.
Friday, July 18, 2014
Minnesota Reins In Greenhouse Emissions