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Swedzinski, Dahms criticize governor’s clean energy policy proposals

ST. PAUL — Two southwest Minnesota lawmakers sharply criticized a set of clean energy policy proposals announced by Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan on Thursday.

The Walz administration said the proposals will lead Minnesota to 100 percent clean energy in the state’s electricity sector by 2040. It also claimed that the policies build on the success that Minnesota has already achieved in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and increasing the use of clean energy resources to power the state while ensuring reliable, affordable electricity.

“The time to fight climate change is now,” Walz said. “Not only is clean energy the right and responsible choice for future generations, clean energy maximizes job creation and grows our economy, which is especially important as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud to announce a set of policy proposals that will lead Minnesota to 100% clean energy in the state’s electricity sector by 2040. Minnesotans have the ingenuity and innovation needed to power this future, and we are ready to pioneer the green energy economy.”

But State Sen. Gary Dahms, R-Redwood Falls, said the “proposed benefit” of the rules seems questionable based on data from Minnesota and across the nation. He said without adopting the standards, the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s (MnDOT’s) forecast shows that gasoline usage has already hit its peak and is projected to decline exponentially in the future. Also, he said states that have already adopted the standards have a smaller percentage of electric vehicles than Minnesota.

On Wednesday, the Minnesota Senate’s Environment and Natural Resources Finance and Policy and Legacy Committees held a joint hearing regarding the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) intention to adopt California Emissions Standards through the administrative rulemaking process, bypassing the legislature.

“Minnesotans elected representatives who should be making these decisions and not an unelected board from California,” Dahms said. “These regulations will only limit choice and increase costs for consumers.”

“We must take immediate action to protect our earth for future generations,” Flanagan said. “Burning fossil fuels pollutes our environment, permanently changes our climate for the worse, and wastes money on inefficient and outdated practices. This plan sets a clear path and destination for Minnesota’s clean energy future. Minnesota should be a state that continues to lead on the clean energy economy, and we know we can.”

Swedzinski criticized the proposals after the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency conducted its first public information session last week regarding the agency’s intention to adopt the California Cars Standard through the administrative rule making process.

“It makes no sense whatsoever for Minnesota to make itself subject to California bureaucrats 1,700 miles away,” Swedzinski said. He is the lead Republican on the House Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee.

“This is an effort by the governor to bypass the Legislature and once again push a metro-centric agenda on all of Minnesota. Adopting California’s auto standards would drive up the cost of cars and limit access to the vehicles Minnesotans want, especially trucks and SUVs.

“If the governor wants to encourage people to purchase electric vehicles, a better plan would be to increase demand by supporting policies to reduce consumer prices. It is the wrong approach for our governor to impose his will on Minnesota auto dealers and consumers and you can’t help but wonder what what he and his administration will go after next. Now it’s cars, but next is it semi-trucks, tractors, fishing boats, lawnmowers or snowblowers? This isn’t leadership, it’s catering to metro-based environmentalists at the expense of those of us in Greater Minnesota.”

COVID-19 vaccines

After the Governor’s Office was criticized for a slow distribution of more than 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses that have been allocated to Minnesota, State Rep. Joe Schomacker, Luverne, said the administration is now taking steps to improve their rating.

It has opened up the availability of the vaccine to include all Minnesotans age over the age of 65 and started a new community COVID-19 vaccine program at nine locations in Minnesota – including Marshall – that would help with vaccinations.

“Any way we can get more COVID-19 vaccines to those who need it is a positive development,” Schomacker said. “There is no reason we should be sitting on these doses. Let’s get them to our front line workers, our elderly, our most vulnerable residents and those who care for them as quickly as we can. I hear from area hospitals that they can be more helpful with more direction from state partners, and we should be doing more of that.”

Last week, it was noted that Minnesota ranked last in the Midwest in total percent of our supply used (34%), and last in the Midwest for doses administered per 100 people.

Schomacker said if you’re interested in trying to make an appointment, visit mn.gov/vaccine or by calling 612-426-7230 or toll free, 1-833-431-2053. Minnesotans should attempt to make an appointment online before dialing the call center. Minnesotans who cannot immediately make an appointment may be able to sign up for a waitlist.

Available appointments will refresh every Tuesday at noon. Minnesotans will have the opportunity to schedule appointments for both their first and second doses of vaccine.

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