Minnesotans have already helped the Gulf respond to this current disaster. To prevent future calamities, we need to move swiftly to a clean energy economy. We have the technology, we have the capacity, and I believe that Americans have the will. Future generations will thank us for our courage this year.
State Rep. Jeremy Kalin, DFL-District 17B, is the chair of the national Coalition of Legislators for Energy Action Now. He has a great op-ed in the Minnesota Post, which I excerpt below:
Minnesota is not insulated from this disaster.
In mid-June I joined a bipartisan group of conservation-minded state legislators in Memphis, Tenn., to address the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe, among other issues. We visited with the national Ducks Unlimited director of conservation. He and I spoke at length about the potential impact of oil-filled marshes on the Mississippi flyway. Scaups and other ducks feed in those wetlands over the winter, before heading north to Minnesota and beyond for the summer.
Loons feed in oil-threatened marshes
Ducks are not the only birds that migrate up and down the Mississippi River valley. Our state bird, the common loon, travels south for the winter and feeds in those same oil-threatened marshes. The loon is one of the most recognizing symbols of our great state “” we must ensure the call of the loon is heard for decades to come.Minnesota has dealt with tragedies before, and the lessons we learned are helping those in the Gulf. After the I-35W bridge disaster, the Legislature established a survivor’s “escrow fund” that quickly made sure victims could pay their medical bills as well as deal with lost paychecks. Seeing the success of that approach, I suggested to the White House that it make BP fund a similar escrow fund for Gulf oil victims facing lost livelihoods and economic damage. President Obama announced this plan, based in part on Minnesota’s leadership before.Though our nation responds well in times of crisis, we need to prevent the next looming disasters.America’s energy policy has been too reliant on the single source of oil for too long. Cute slogans like “drill baby drill” have justified billion-dollar bailouts for Big Oil, including the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005. That bill was just one of many written by oil lobbyists who successfully gutted environmental safeguards in deepwater drilling.
Unfortunately, in 2005 both Sens. Norm Coleman and Mark Dayton supported the Bush administration’s $2.6 billion effort to appease Big Oil, proving that bipartisanship isn’t always more important than principle. By providing tax breaks for Big Oil, the Bush administration and Congress made dirty energy cheaper and increased our energy trade deficit to over $1 billion a day. Americans’ energy dollars need to be invested here, in home-grown clean energy jobs.
Leadership on energy independence
Once again, Minnesota’s past leadership can be a model for our nation, especially when it comes to energy independence.
Shortly after taking over the Minnesota House majority, the DFL-led Legislature passed the nation’s strongest Renewable Electricity Standard, requiring more than 25 percent of our electricity be provided from renewable sources like wind turbines and solar panels. That year, we also passed the country’s strongest energy conservation standard as well as aggressive cuts to greenhouse gas pollution. Minnesota’s developed next-generation biofuels, and we are expanding clean energy jobs manufacturing solar panels and developing electric vehicles.
This summer, the U.S. Senate will debate a comprehensive clean energy bill in response to the BP crisis and our ongoing addiction to oil. Unlike in 2005, today’s Minnesota senators stood up to Big Oil’s high-paid lobbyists and voted to defeat a special resolution that would have gutted the Clean Air Act. Minnesotans should thank Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken, and ask them to help Minnesota lead the nation to a brighter, cleaner energy future.