Help sought on environmental issuesPublished 6:18am Sunday, February 10, 2013
Officials with the Minnesota Environmental Partnership have a plan for the future, and they asked local representatives and environmentalists for support Friday during a visit to Austin.
Matt Morten with the partnership told Sen. Dan Sparks and Rep. Jeanne Poppe, DFL-Austin, and Shannon Savick, DFL-Wells, for support on introducing bills that would focus on three key areas of environmental quality and sustainability: clean water, solar energy and more public transit.
Minnesota Environmental Partnership wants the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to go further and identify nonpoint source pollution, such as agricultural runoff, and help rectify it. It hopes a clean water accountability bill will accomplish that and better define where money from the Clean Water Land and Legacy Bill can be allocated.
In energy, Morten mentioned the fact that Minnesota is already a significant manufacturer of solar products, and requiring 10 percent of Minnesota’s energy to come from solar by 2030 would increase jobs and cut down on the state’s energy costs.
“We have a fabulous solar resource in Minnesota,” Morten said.
Morten and those with the partnership want utility companies to help pay to put solar capabilities into homes and businesses, as well.
Steve Vietor, wind technician and solar program instructor at Riverland Community College, also offered some insight about the future but emphasized how solar and other sustainable energy efforts can bring jobs and people to the area.
The last part of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership’s plan, more public transit, would require 250 more buses on roads in greater Minnesota, add three lightrails in the Twin Cities metro. Morten said for some time, the plan would require $332 million dollars a year to establish. While Sparks and Poppe supported all three facets of the plan, Sparks said he would have to make sure such a transportation plan would benefit locals, as any state funding he fights for would have to benefit his constituents. Sparks would first ask for transportation money to maintain local roads. Morten admitted much of the transit plan benefits the Twin Cities.