By Brett Benson
MN350 Action Communications Director

The 2020 legislative session, which begins Tuesday, is crucial to all Minnesotans who want our state to move towards 100% clean energy and carbon-free transportation. It is uncertain exactly what will come out of this session, but there are several initiatives MN350 Action will be monitoring:

Transportation bonding bill

Our partners with the Transportation Forward table have put together a package of capital investments and other proposals to move Minnesota’s transportation system towards clean, accessible options. WE STRONGLY SUPPORT decreasing automobile emissions and our reliance on fossil fuels, by investing in the following:

  • Accelerating our BRT (bus rapid transit) network in the Twin Cities
  • Supporting our critical suburban and Greater Minnesota transit providers
  • A 3/4 cent sales tax increase to support public transit, bicycling and walking
  • The under-funded Safe Routes to School program, for safe bike-walk paths statewide
  • Statewide grants for electric bus and vehicle charging infrastructure

Clean Energy First

Despite its deceptive name, WE OPPOSE this Senate-sponsored bill, which is very different from a previous version passed last year in the House and defeated in the Senate. This bill as written guts many provisions of the House bill for renewable, clean, alternative energy, and instead favors the coal and gas industries. Significant progressive changes are needed for it to be acceptable.

  • “Clean energy” is defined as including coal and gas plant technology that captures only 80% of emissions, with harmful carbon capture and sequestration technologies that inject carbon into the ground, or are used for enhanced recovery of oil. That’s not enough to meet our goals.
  • “Clean energy” is defined as including garbage burning of mixed municipal solid wastes and nuclear power. The bill effectively repeals the Minnesota moratorium on new nuclear power.
  • The bill restricts a preference for carbon-free resources in Minnesota, and provides an incentive for utilities to propose fossil-fuel plants out of state.
  • Xcel and MN Power fracked gas plants in Becker, Minn., and Superior, Wis., are exempted.
  • Factors that MN’s Public Utilities Commission uses to set customer electricity rates reduce an emphasis on energy conservation and renewable energy in favor of cost and economic growth.

Anti-protest legislation

This atrocious bill was vetoed in 2018 and defeated in 2019 but may be revisited this year. The legislation would classify as a felony, with significant fines and prison terms, entering a site of “a critical public service facility, utility, or pipeline with the intent to disrupt the operation or provision of services.” This is a dangerous attempt to criminalize free speech and assembly rights of Indigenous water protectors and other Minnesotans who oppose pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure, intimidating and inhibiting legitimate protest.

100% clean energy

We made history last year when the House voted for the first time to pass 100% legislation. However, the bill was ultimately blocked by the Senate and probably won’t be taken up by that body in 2020. MN350 will continue to partner with the 100% Campaign, monitoring climate change provisions that appear in other legislation this year.

What can you do? 

The Feb. 25 caucuses are a great opportunity to advocate for stopping the climate crisis. We need everyone to attend and ensure that protecting our climate is prioritized. Save the date on your calendars.

Help us ensure that our democratic processes reflect Minnesota values.


Caucuses are held at 7 p.m. in your local community.  Find your caucus location here.