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Reader’s View: Clean-energy future now, can’t include gas plants

September 20, 2018 /
Duluth News Tribune

By Linda Herron

In a Sept. 12 story, Kenny Blumenfeld, a senior climatologist for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, responding to a question about the cause of climate change, said: “The main culprit is greenhouse gas.” (The story was published at duluthnewstribune.com under the headline, Experts say Minnesota’s climate changing faster than other states.”)

Blumenfeld described a rapidly changing climate in which rains are getting more intense and more frequent. In an effort to minimize future intense and damaging effects of increased carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, the state of Minnesota mandated carbon dioxide-reduction goals of at least 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2025 and at least 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Minnesota currently is not on track to reach these goals. When Minnesota Power released plans to build a new natural gas plant with Dairyland Power Cooperative, it threatened to set Minnesota even further back from these goals.

Natural gas is extracted from deep layers of shale in the earth using a method called fracking, which releases not only carbon dioxide but also methane gas, which is 87 times more powerful at trapping heat in the atmosphere than natural gas when averaged over a 20-year period. The extraction process also pollutes underground water resources with the highly toxic chemicals pumped into the shale.

I support the recommendation of Administrative Law Judge Jeanne Cochran to deny Minnesota Power’s petition to build the Nemadji Trail Energy Center. I further support the large industrial customers who have questioned the need for this plant. According to a survey by the Citizens Utility Board, 77 percent of Minnesota Power residential customers do not approve of this plant.

Minnesota cannot continue this trend of replacing coal plants with new gas plants and meet its greenhouse-gas reduction goals. Our clean-energy future is now, creating jobs and cutting greenhouse gas emissions through solar, wind, and energy-efficiency projects.

Author: Ben Bratrud

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