By Laura Zilverberg
MN350 volunteer

A few weeks ago, the gas station near my house was selling gas at $4.79 per gallon, an outrageous increase from a few months ago, not to mention the increased costs to heat my home this winter – and no signs of relief in sight. National prices were not any better with an average price of $4.80 per gallon. 

The average Minnesota household can expect to see 30% higher home energy bills this year (and even higher for households that rely on propane). 

All while fossil fuel companies rake in record profits, and some politicians vote against holding those same companies accountable for price gouging. 

Rising prices for fuel come at a time when a confluence of factors are interacting at once, including increased demand, severe weather shocks exacerbated by climate change, and the ongoing war in Ukraine. 

Big Oil is taking advantage of uncertainty to make more money at the expense of our planet and pocketbooks, while rewarding shareholders and executives.  

Meanwhile, the burden of these increased costs is once again falling on the most vulnerable among us as families struggle to make ends meet amid rising prices across categories. 

But what is the solution? Fossil fuel companies will insist that it’s time to double down on extraction, ignoring the health, economic, and environmental implications of doing so, just so they can continue to make profits while destroying our planet. 

At the federal level, we should hold companies accountable for their Big Oil greed. 350 Action is collecting signatures in support of Consumer Fuel Price Gouging Prevention Act here. 

Here in Minnesota, now is the time to develop renewable, local sources of energy and we push to transition away from polluting fossil fuels. Regardless of your race, class, or where you live, every Minnesotan deserves access to clean and affordable energy. Renewable energy sources are not only cheaper, they are also more resilient to price fluctuations when compared to fossil fuels. 

Delaying the transition to renewable energy only benefits oil and gas companies and keeps their outdated business model relevant. With solutions already available to us, we could deliver 90% clean electricity to the U.S. by 2035 (University of California at Berkeley and Energy Innovation) and create high-paying jobs along the way. 

Making the transition to clean renewable energy also puts us on the path to energy independence to control our own energy supply, providing lower costs while reducing our reliance on hostile regimes like Russia. 

Part of the solutions must focus on efficiency and we should support policies that do just that, but the oil and gas industry is impeding improvements to the nation’s building codes while stripping local governments of authority to build better buildings. 

Individuals can certainly replace gas appliances with electric alternatives, including heat pumps and conserve energy, but the “green” choices aren’t available to everyone equally. 

Your household can apply for energy assistance and weatherization services through the Energy Assistance Program

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Laura Zilverberg is a public relations professional, volunteer with, and mother of two. She used to be an avid runner and plans to be again once her kids sleep through the night. She enjoys reading and channeling her dread about climate change into baked goods, gardening, and blog posts.