September 28, 2020

New report exposes the health, safety, climate and economic risks of fossil gas

Minneapolis, MN – Today, the Energy We Can’t Afford campaign released The Health, Safety, Climate, and Economic Risks of Fossil Gas Extraction and Use, a new report on the dangers of fossil gas prepared by Melissa R. Partin, PhD

The report presents detailed information on the harmful impacts of the extraction, transport, and use of so-called “natural” gas and shows how BIPOC communities and residents living in poverty are impacted the most. The report also outlines how building clean energy power sources instead of the fossil gas plants now proposed for Minnesota could save Minnesotans $600 million and reduce the number of stranded, valueless power generation facilities in the future.

The fossil fuel industry and some lawmakers have been trying to convince us that fossil gas is clean and safe and that we need it to transition in an economically feasible way to a completely clean energy future. The report debunks these myths by summarizing the considerable health, safety, and economic risks posed by fossil gas production and use. Shifting to clean power sources like wind and solar can save money and prevent these risks, particularly for Black and Indigenous people of color most likely to be harmed by fossil gas pollution and high energy costs.” – Melissa R. Partin, PhD, MN350 research consultant and volunteer 

The Energy We Can’t Afford campaign educates Minnesotans about the dangers of fossil gas and is building a movement in opposition to new fossil gas plants and pipelines, such as Xcel’s proposed Sherco plant in Becker. On October 8 the campaign will host a live-streamed panel discussion of the report findings and launch a social media campaign to call on utilities like Xcel Energy and the PUC to drop fossil gas from our energy future. 

“In the midst of yet another destructive hurricane season and wildfires raging throughout the West, both made worse by climate change, Xcel Energy is proposing to build a billion dollar fossil gas plant that would emit 3 million metric tons of carbon annually. We cannot be building expensive fossil fuel infrastructure in the midst of the climate crisis, especially when climate change and pollution disproportionately harm people of color. Minnesotans want a just transition to a 100% clean energy future.” – Patty O’Keefe, Senior Organizing Representative with the Sierra Club

“We can’t afford an energy future dominated by powerful fossil fuel companies; this campaign highlights the benefits to health, safety, and democracy when we divest from fossil gas in our homes, businesses, and electricity system.” – John Farrell, Co-Director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance

The facts show that fossil gas puts our climate, community, economy and safety at risk:

  • Fossil gas emits methane, a powerful greenhouse gas that heats the planet 86 times faster over 20 years than carbon dioxide released from coal burning power plants, accelerating climate change.
  • The economic and safety risks of fossil gas are more likely to harm BIPOC communities, residents living in poverty, gas industry workers, and vulnerable groups like children, the elderly, and individuals with chronic disease.
  • If Xcel and Minnesota Power build clean energy infrastructure, instead of their proposed fossil gas plants, Minnesota and Wisconsin consumers will save $600 million over 30 years.
  • Since 2005 in the United States, fossil gas pipeline accidents have resulted in 760 injuries, 195 deaths, and more than $4.2 billion in property damage. Minnesota has had 77 fossil gas “incidents” since 2005, more than the national average.

About the Energy We Can’t Afford coalition

The Energy We Can’t Afford coalition includes the Sierra Club, MN350, St. Paul 350, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, Community Power, Environment Minnesota, the Union of Concerned Scientists, Fresh Energy, Cooperative Energy Futures, Twin Cities DSA, Extinction Rebellion Twin Cities, and Vote Solar. Visit for more information.


Brett Benson
MN350, Communications Director  |  651-368-1226