Faith leaders advocate for clean energy policies

More than 300 faith leaders have signed a letter delivered to Gov. Mark Dayton and members of the state Legislature urging them to support the federal Clean Power Plan and increase clean energy in Minnesota.

The Republican-controlled House has advocated rolling back the state’s renewable energy standard and finding ways to make energy cheaper, among other things, while the DFL-controlled Senate and Dayton have pushed for policies bolstering the state’s clean energy infrastructure.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan is a proposed rule that has set a goal of reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030. The draft plan, released June 2014, sets reduction targets for each state. Minnesota’s target is a 41 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030.

The EPA is expected to finalize the standards mid-summer.

Whittier-based Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light has been a leading organization lobbying for clean energy at the state level.

The faith leaders noted that there is a huge opportunity to increase the state’s use of renewable energy sources and increasing energy efficiency.

“Our potential for clean energy in Minnesota is far beyond what we utilize,” they wrote. “We currently get 15 percent of our energy from renewable sources, but only use 1 percent of our wind potential. With this potential comes significant job expansion.”

They noted that employment in the state’s clean energy economy has increased 78 percent from 2000 to 2014 while jobs in Minnesota overall grew 11 percent.

“From a faith perspective, there is something to be said here that reaches beyond the evidence; that transcends the science; that lifts our demand for action to the highest level of importance,” they wrote. “For us, addressing climate change and its impacts on people and the earth, is an important part of who we are and what we are called to do.”

For more stories about clean energy and efforts to address climate change, go to www.southwestjournal.com/climate-change