2014 Summer Reading: Minnesota's Progressive Environment, is a series of guest posts occasionally published on Bluestem Prairie.
Guest post by Phoenix Woman
It's been frustrating lately, watching as environmental concerns that affect all Minnesotans -- and ultimately all Americans and all other residents of Planet Earth get kicked to the curb in the chase for what all too often turns out to be short-term employment at best.
With this in mind, I asked a few questions of Kelly Schwinghammer of the Minnesota branch of the Blue Green Alliance, which among other things “advocates the growth in the number and quality of jobs in the clean economy by expanding a broad range of industries." The group takes its name from the partnership of 15 of the country’s largest unions (blue) and environmental organizations (green).
1) What is the BGA working on for policy in Minnesota?
“Most recently, we promoted legislation at the State Capitol to support Industrial Energy Efficiency. The legislation authorized the Minnesota Department of Commerce to issue $100 million in bonds to help hospitals, companies, local units of government and other large users of electricity get low-interest loans be more efficient. It became law in May. We are working to move the state forward on a number of issues, including clean energy, energy efficiency, having a state plan to meet EPA regulations on power plants, and more. In addition, we are an active member in the Minnesota Clean Energy & Jobs Campaign, which aims to scale up energy efficiency and get at least half of the state's electricity from renewable energy by 2030.
2) Does BGA endorse and work for candidates? If yes, what is the process for this?
“The BlueGreen Alliance does not currently endorse candidates for local, state or federal office.”
3) What do BGA leaders see as their greatest areas of growth in Minnesota?
“We’re proud to be part of the Minnesota Clean Energy & Jobs coalition and working to help ensure Minnesota stays proactive in pursuing policies that promote clean energy and energy efficiency. We are also part of the Move MN transportation coalition.”
4) What do they see as their challenges in Minnesota?
“The usual challenges of any coalition: finding common ground on difficult issues. Sometimes you can, sometimes you can’t, but often you end up finding a way to achieve the goal through collaboration.”
All very nice.
But I recently spent part of a recent summer day in Stillwater, staring at the ugly and unnecessary moonscape of concrete footings and road spaghetti currently under construction in what used to be one of America’s prettiest river town landscapes.
Such projects make me wonder whether when push comes to shove, the lure of “good jobs,” phantasm that it so often is, outweighs the clout of the green side of the coalition.
Banner: By Ken Avidor.
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