Clean Power Plan: Where Are We Now?

It seems like a story about a new clean energy project in Minnesota is surfacing every day. From the explosion of community solar gardens, to utility-scale solar projects, to a planned wind-solar hybrid project, the news indicates that our clean energy economy is taking off, and will not be slowing down any time soon. However, with the Supreme Court recently putting the brakes on Clean Power Plan implementation while the legal challenge is resolved, an important question arises: how does the Clean Power Plan “hold” affect Minnesota’s clean energy progress?

Wheat - skyFirst of all, this pause – while not what we’d hoped for, and not something we have time for in light of our rapidly changing climate – does not overturn the Clean Power Plan, as some have mischaracterized it. Nor does it call into question the legal merit of the plan, which has a solid foundation in existing law: the Clean Air Act. The Supreme Court itself upheld the EPA’s ability to regulate carbon as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act in a previous ruling. We expect the Clean Power Plan will ultimately prevail in the courts, and arguments in the suit filed against it will be heard by the DC Circuit Court of Appeals in early June.

The good news for our state is that our clean energy economy rests firmly on a bedrock of proactive clean energy policies and a strong business climate that is propelling an increasing number of clean energy projects and jobs. In fact, our successful track record of clean energy growth has already put us on track to meet our Clean Power Plan goals – our main question regarding implementation is, how much further can we go towards a long-term goal of 100 percent clean energy, and how fast?

To reinforce Minnesota’s commitment to clean energy, Governor Dayton issued a strong statement in support of the Clean Power Plan and emphasized that Minnesota will keep pursuing ambitious clean energy policies, Supreme Court decision or no. In his words, “We shouldn’t need a federal edict to understand how vital it is that we keep doing everything in our collective powers to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy efficiency, and advance Minnesota’s clean energy economy.”

While recalcitrant states are regrettably stalling action during the Clean Power Plan hold, it is reassuring that Minnesota remains firm in its commitment to move forward on clean energy and climate action. The MPCA has continued holding listening sessions across the state to gather public input on the plan, and has been receptive to calls for an inclusive process. On March 10, for example, they will hold a youth-only session, to provide the generation most impacted by climate change with a chance to weigh in. For more information on the MPCA process and opportunities to share your views on the Clean Power Plan, visit their Clean Power Plan in Minnesota page.

We thank our state leaders for heeding the call for climate action and clean energy advancement, and look forward to engaging in the process to create a state plan that is strong and just. What does that look like? The youth petition we’re circulating with YEA! MN and MPIRG provides a good overview:

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Help us push for a strong and just Clean Power Plan by attending our Youth Lobby Day & Governor’s Summit on March 14, attending a listening session in your area (the Minneapolis listening session is March 8), or contacting state leaders to express your support.

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