Democratic Governor Tim Walz presented a climate change framework on Friday that shows his proposed direction on the environment if he wins a second term, a sweeping plan that would cut carbon emissions and accelerate the shift to vehicles electrical.
Walz announced the package just a week before early voting began. Control of the governor’s office and both houses of the divided legislature are at stake in the election, and Walz was beaten by Republicans for tying Minnesota’s vehicle emissions standards to strict California rules. He said he unveiled his plan so close to the election only because it had taken a long time to complete, but also that campaign season was a good time to ‘encourage conversations’ about policy directions. .
“This issue will transcend elected officials. This problem is not going away. It needs to be addressed,” Walz said.
“The urgency is there,” he continued. “We are moving forward on this file. And I think that allows us to create a striking contrast.
It was a shift in direction for a campaign that for weeks has focused on Democrats energizing their base with warnings about GOP threats to abortion rights and Republican accusations of Democratic inaction in the face of the rising crime and inflation.
The 69-page plan details six major goals: clean transportation; climate-smart natural and working land; resilient communities; clean energy and efficient buildings; healthy lives and communities; and a clean economy. Each category contained long detailed lists of proposals.
Katrina Kessler, commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, said the Walz administration can implement some of the proposals on its own, while others would require approval and funding from the next legislature, and more could be achieved through partnerships with local governments, businesses and farmers.
The plan includes a goal to increase the share of electric cars on Minnesota roads to 20% by 2030 from the current 1%, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2030 and achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Minnesota is one of 17 states that have tied their vehicle emissions standards to strict California rules rather than looser federal regulations. Those states now face tough decisions about whether to follow California’s new initiative, the toughest in the nation, to ban the sale of new gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035 or return to federal standards.
Kessler told reporters that the Walz administration currently has no plans to adopt the California rules, which would require a lengthy new rulemaking process. But she hasn’t ruled it out either, a pledge sought by Republican lawmakers and the Minnesota Automobile Dealers Association.
“It’s too big and too costly a question to let the governor keep the people of Minnesota in the dark.” GOP Representative Chris Swedzinski of Ghent said in a statement.
Kessler said the administration is instead focusing on its existing plans to expand the availability of electric vehicles under the state’s current “clean car” rule and will decide next steps later.
“It’s premature to try to ask us what you’re going to do in three days when we haven’t decided what we’re going to do tomorrow,” Kessler said.
Walz made the announcement at a research center for Ecolab, a Fortune 500 company that provides cleaning, sanitizing, and water and energy management solutions.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Jensen criticized the governor’s plan for not once mentioning nuclear power as a potential source of low-carbon electricity.
“However, Governor Walz’s report mentions the words ‘equity’ or ‘equitable’ 40 times,” Jensen said in a statement. “While equality is something we should all strive for, it is clear that this is a political document intended to strengthen its base before an election, rather than a serious solution to Minnesota’s energy problems.
Jensen offered a list of ideas to cut energy costs, including scrapping the governor’s Clean Cars plan.
“It’s really important for Minnesota to have a governor who understands the threat climate change poses to Minnesota, to this generation and future generations,” said Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman of Brooklyn Park. . She added that Walz’s plan will build on the climate change provisions of President Joe Biden’s Cut Inflation Act.
“Climate has always been at the forefront of what Democrats stand for,” said Senate Minority Leader Melisa López Franzen of Edina.