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Sustainable Stillwater MN Signs On to Support the 100% Carbon-Free Law

In early 2023, Minnesota made a groundbreaking move by passing the “100% Carbon-Free by 2040 Energy Standard” (Minn. Stat. § 216B.1691). This landmark legislation was celebrated as a significant victory in the fight against climate change, aiming to drastically reduce the state’s carbon emissions. However, while the law set ambitious targets, it left many crucial details undefined, particularly regarding what qualifies as “carbon-free” electricity. This is where the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) comes in, as it is now tasked with defining the standards and principles for implementing the 100% Law.

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Sustainable Stillwater MN is proud to announce its support for a letter addressed to the PUC, advocating for a clear and strict interpretation of “carbon-free” energy that genuinely benefits both the environment and Minnesota communities. The letter emphasizes the need for the PUC to resist industry pressures that seek to include polluting technologies under the “carbon-free” label. These technologies, such as burning wood or garbage for energy and implementing questionable carbon capture methods, pose significant risks to communities and ecosystems while failing to deliver real emission reductions.

The Letter’s Key Points

Guiding Principles:

  1. No Sacrifice Communities: The letter highlights the importance of not replicating the injustices of the current fossil fuel-based energy system, which has disproportionately harmed low-wealth and working-class communities, as well as Indigenous Peoples. The transition to zero-carbon technologies should not create new injustices but should address and repair past harms.

  2. Energy Democracy: The future energy system must be community-based, focusing on social, economic, and environmental justice. It should prioritize distributed energy resources that are owned and operated by local communities, ensuring a fair distribution of both the benefits and burdens of decarbonization.

  3. Proven Carbon-Free Solutions: The letter advocates for the use of proven renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, geothermal, and energy storage. It strongly opposes the inclusion of biomass, trash incineration, and other polluting technologies as “carbon-free,” as these do not align with the law’s intent and contribute to environmental harm.

Specific Technologies and Resources:

  • Wind, Solar, Geothermal, and Energy Storage: These are the truly carbon-free technologies that the letter supports, as they emit no carbon dioxide and are cost-effective solutions for Minnesota’s energy needs.

  • Woody Biomass and Garbage Incineration: The letter argues against these technologies being classified as carbon-free, citing their significant carbon emissions and harmful pollutants that affect community health and the environment.

  • Hydrogen: Only green hydrogen, produced using renewable energy, should be considered carbon-free. Other methods of hydrogen production generate more emissions than they save.

  • Carbon Capture, Utilization, & Storage (CCUS): The letter opposes CCUS due to its inefficiency, high costs, and the additional pollution and risks it introduces. It fails to meet the 100% Law’s requirements for being a truly carbon-free technology.

100% PUC organizational sign-on letter.docx
Download PDF • 120KB

Why This Matters

The decisions made by the PUC in defining “carbon-free” will shape Minnesota’s energy future. It is crucial that these decisions prioritize genuinely clean, renewable energy sources and reject false solutions that perpetuate pollution and injustice. Sustainable Stillwater MN stands with other organizations in urging the PUC to adhere to the principles outlined in the letter, ensuring that the 100% Carbon Free Law fulfills its promise of a healthier, more sustainable future for all Minnesotans.

How You Can Help

Sustainable Stillwater MN encourages community members to get involved by:

Together, we can ensure that Minnesota leads the way in creating a clean, just, and sustainable energy future.

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