On Monday, Feb. 17, the Minnesota House Climate Action Caucus proposed a package of bills to invest in electric buses and cars, solar production, energy efficiency improvements to buildings and more. The 15-bill package totals $191.5 million in one-time funds, which legislators said would be funded with the state's budget surplus.
State Rep. Todd Lippert, D-Northfield, at a Monday news conference said the package aims to alleviate the effects of climate change and pollution already being felt in the metro and Greater Minnesota, as well as prevent further repercussions down the line.
"We all depend on a healthy and stable climate and we need to respond to climate change this session," Lippert said. "Waiting to act threatens our future."
The largest portion of the package, $85.5 million, is devoted to energy efficiency improvements to homes, public schools, nursing homes and commercial buildings. The second-largest chunk would go toward transportation — Minnesota's largest air pollutant, according to Pollution Control Agency data — with funding for electric school and public transit buses, as well as electric vehicle rebates.
The plan also includes funds for solar panels for both homes and public schools, as well as conservation, research and local government projects.
The nonprofit Clean Energy Economy Minnesota put their stamp of approval on the package in a Monday news release, saying that the plan would create clean energy jobs and spark the state economy.
Legislators formed the House climate caucus in September, and senators followed suit with their own climate caucus in December. Though House leadership was not present for Monday's news conference, state Rep. Patty Acomb, D-Minnetonka, who co-chairs the caucus, said the bill package has their support — as well as Minnesotans'.
"We created this proposal because Minnesotans were asking their state legislators to recognize the urgent challenges posed by climate change and respond in a way that allows people from all across Minnesota to take part in can-do solutions," she said.