Why Minnesota needs a new renewable energy standard!

Bryn Shank, YEA! MN Co-Chair, Student at St Paul Central High School
Bryn Shank, YEA! MN Co-Chair, Student at St Paul Central High School

2012 was the hottest year on record within the United States. Many western states are in official states of drought. Climate change is now. Obama said this about climate change in his State of the Union address “The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way.  But the debate is settled.  Climate change is a fact.  And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”


Minnesota has the opportunity this legislative session to make a 100% renewable energy future less of a dream and more of a reality. Some of the goals of the bill include getting 50% of all of Minnesota’s energy to come from renewable energy by 2030, aligning utility incentives with energy efficiency, and increasing energy efficiency financing for schools. I don’t see this as ambitious but as a necessity. Our previous solar standard of 25% by 2025 was one of the strongest in the nation. Minnesota has the same solar capacity as Germany which is the world’s leader in solar installation! I visited Morris Minnesota two weeks ago for a college visit and lets just say (it was freezing!) we have plenty of wind within Minnesota. Furthermore, Minnesota imports all of its energy in fossils fuels from elsewhere. This is millions of wasted revenue that could be used to develop resources Minnesota has right here, right now. Still the clean energy revolution isn’t going to be cheap. The funding of this bill will be expensive but at least we will be able to estimate how costly.. the costs of run-away climate change aren’t only going to be higher but also unpredictable and far reaching. Uncontrollable climate change will affect multiple sectors from the food system due to unexpected droughts to reconstruction costs because more frequent storms. Who’s going to pay for these avoidable costs? My guess is the tax payer. The new renewable energy standard not only benefits the earth but our pockets.

As a senior at St.Paul Central High School I’m concerned about my future not because of college decisions but what the world will become as a result of climate change. I want to have the same opportunities as generations before me. To address my concern I’m co-chair of YEA!MN (Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota) which is part of the Emerging Leaders Program for the Will Steger Foundation. YEA!MN is a network of high school students within the metro area who are concerned about climate change. To act on our collective concern YEA!MN will be joining the Clean Energy & Jobs Earth Day Rally at the MN State Capitol on April 22nd.  Middle school, high school, and college youth are encouraged to attend! Join the Will Steger Foundation and over 60+ member groups of the Clean Energy and Jobs campaign as we push for 50% of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030. The rally will feature Will Steger and youth speakers, along with key political and non-profit leaders leading the charge on clean energy solutions. For more information or to sign up go to willstegerfoundation.org. Climate change is going to affect our generation. Lets do something about it!

A core program of the Will Steger Foundation, YEA! MN supports a network of high school environmental clubs working together across the Twin Cities Metro to empower student leadership on climate change solutions, facilitate shared skills and strategies, and take coordinated action at home, at school, and in the wider community. Learn more about our program at www.yeamn.org.


A version of this article was recently published in the Highland Villager, St Paul.


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