The Potluck

Climate groups: Walz lacks boldness and decisiveness for environmental change

By: - April 15, 2021 11:44 am

Minnesota Boundary Waters. Photo by Peter de Sibour, courtesy of Explore Minnesota.

A coalition of worker, Indigenous, environmental and progressive groups says Gov. Tim Walz is failing Minnesotans on environmental justice and climate change. 

The group published a midterm climate report card, which gives Walz mostly failing grades for his efforts toward a sustainable and equitable future, saying his methods lack the boldness and decisiveness needed. 

“The urgency and possibility of this moment call for bold action and transformative solutions,” the coalition said in a press release, “especially as the impacts of the climate crisis are amplified by existing structural racism, and often hit hardest in communities of color.”

The coalition argues that Minnesota hasn’t passed a “significant” piece of climate action legislation since 2007. Republicans, who have been resistant to climate change legislation, have controlled the state Senate since Walz was elected in 2018. 

“Our climate is changing faster in Minnesota than almost anywhere else in the country,” said Sam Grant, executive director of the environmental advocacy nonprofit MN350. “People of color, including Indigenous people, are being impacted first and worst.”

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 91% of people of color are potentially exposed to worse air pollution than the rest of the state. 

Separately, American Rivers released a report Tuesday on the nation’s most threatened rivers and named the Boundary Waters and the Kawishiwi River under grave threat due to a proposed copper-nickel mine near there. 

Walz and his defenders point to a range of environmental initiatives undertaken by the first-term Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor. 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is finalizing low- and zero-emission standards despite significant pushback from legislative Republicans and their business allies.  

In January, the administration also announced a proposal for 100% clean energy by 2040. Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power — the state’s two largest utilities — committed to 100% clean energy by 2050. 

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Gracie Stockton
Gracie Stockton

Gracie Stockton is a senior at the University of Minnesota. She was awarded the 2021 Kaufman scholarship from the Hubbard School of Journalism & Mass Communication and joined the Reformer as an intern. Gracie also studies theatre and Russian, and is an artist in her free time.