On May 27th, Governor Dayton vetoed a bill that would roll back Minnesota's restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions in the electric utility sector, thereby continuing our progress towards a cleaner energy future. This bill would have allowed up to 1,500 megawatt of new coal-fired power to be exempt from Minnesota's carbon offset requirements for new coal projects. In his veto letter, he describes the rising costs of coal power and the cheaper, cleaner alternatives available for Minnesota's energy future.
He also clearly articulates the risk to Minnesotans if coal-fired power plants expand. We applaud Governor Dayton's leadership in moving Minnesota's clean energy economy forward! This veto allows Minnesota to continue on our path to developing renewable energy resources that are less costly than coal and do not emit air pollution that threatens our health and climate.
We were thrilled to see the Governor take this action, following a meeting we had with him two months ago with Will Steger, WSF Youth Programs Director Abby Fenton and nine youth leaders (representing WSF’s high school program, Youth Environmental Activists (YEA!) MN; Energy Efficiency Student Alliance; Campus Beyond Coal; Minnesota Public Interest Research Group; Southeast Como Improvement Association Student Group; GreenBiz and EcoWatch). The purpose of the meeting was for the youth and Will to share their concerns for increased global warming pollution from coal-fired power and its impact on our economy, environment, and Minnesota’s future. The Governor was clearly moved by their passion and insistence that Minnesota cannot backslide on its transition away from coal, and promised to veto the bill.
Governor Dayton did sign an Energy Omnibus bill that, among other provisions includes an exemption for the 99 megawatt North Dakota Spiritwood plant. Great River Energy is completing construction of this coal plant, which will use a combined heat and power technology to provide steam to a nearby Cargill processing plant. We recognize that the Governor's position was a modest compromise he felt was necessary to keep the law intact and send the signal that Minnesota can achieve affordable, reliable electricity without a significant commitment to new coal power projects.