Today, Representatives Mike Beard (R-Shakopee), Steve Drazkowski (R-Mazeppa) and Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) introduced HF306, which would abolish Minnesota's renewable energy standards.
Beard and Drazkowski are both known members of the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC's Energy, Environment and Agriculture Task Force adopted a resolution supporting the "Electricity Freedom Act" at the 2012 Annual Meeting on July 26, 2012; the resolution, which calls for the repeal of renewable energy standards by states that have adopted them, was approved by ALEC Board of State Legislators on October 18, 2012.
The Beard-Draz-Franson bill is unlikely to pass, given renewable-energy friendly DFL majorities in the Minnesota legislature. The state is home to a flourishing wind industry and expanding solar energy production. Companies such as tenK Solar also manufacture components in the state for solar production.
ALEC has lost two trade groups asmembers because of the model bill. On Friday, February 1, Tina Gerhardt reported in the Huffington Post article, ALEC Targets Renewable Energy Standards and Global Warming Education:
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is suffering backlash from its battle on a new front: renewable energy standards.
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA) have let their ALEC memberships expire, according to Greenwire.
Why? Last October, ALEC adopted the "Electricity Freedom Act" model bill. This model bill, which ALEC is now seeking to roll out in various states, would end requirements for states to derive a specific percentage of their electricity needs from renewable energy sources.
Given the gridlock on national legislation, renewable energy standards, which are typically passed at the state or local level, set targets for shifting from fossil fuel energy to renewable sources, such as solar and wind energy.
SEIA let its one-year membership expire last fall; AWEA let its membership drop this month.
Beard, identified in 2011 as a member of ALEC's Commerce, Insurance, and Economic Development Task Force by Jon Collins at the Minnesota Independent, has a history of supporting the use of coal; he invested in Bixby Energy's bogus clean-coal scheme, Bluestem noted in 2012. We also linked to Don Shelby's 2011 Minnpost article, Picking science that fits politics: Rep. Mike Beard on climate change where Beard shared his faith in coal:
State Rep. Mike Beard is a nice guy. The Republican from Shakopee is the former president of the local chamber of commerce. He says he cares about humanity. He is a man with deep Christian values, a free-market conservative and a veteran of eight years on the Minnesota House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee. . . .
. . . But right now, Mike Beard's solution is more coal-fired power plants. He told me that having more coal plants would pave the way for renewable energy. I think he meant it would buy time for innovation without a drop in base load electricity as demand increases. . .
A lot of what Beard knows he learned in church. One Congressman, talking about global warming, recently said that God wouldn't allow man to do anything to destroy the planet. Beard told me, "It is the height of hubris to think we could." I asked him about nuclear war. He said: "How did Hiroshima and Nagasaki work out? We destroyed that, but here we are, 60 years later and they are tremendously effective and livable cities. Yes, it was pretty horrible," he said, "But, can we recover? Of course we can." . . .
Beard believes that "God is not capricious. He's given us a creation that is dynamically stable. We are not going to run out of anything."
Drazkowski, identified as a member of ALEC's Civil Justice Task force in Collins' 2011 article, has been one of the most active promoters of ALEC model bills in the Minnesota legislature. In 2010, he introduced a copycat version of Arizona's notorious anti-immigrant bill, SB1070; he sponsored the union-busting "Right to Work" amendment that stalled in bothHouses last year. His support of ALEC-tied "Tenther" legislation was called "too goofy for the GOP" by the Winona Daily News, one of the southeast Minnesota dailies that covers his district.
As for Mary Franson, there's no evidence that she's an ALEC member, so Bluestem suspects she's along to help prop up the author of the senate version of the bill, SD8 homie Bill Ingebrigtsen (R-Alexandria).
It's likely that both are responding to pressure from a major energy corporation in their area. The senate district includes Fergus Falls, home of Ottertail Power, which operates the Big Stone coal-burning plant in South Dakota.
On Friday, the Fergus Falls Journal reported in State OKs power plant plan that the utility will close its Hoot Lake coal-burning plant by 2020:
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Thursday approved the recommendation by Otter Tail Power to retire its Hoot Lake coal plant by 2020.
In October, Otter Tail Power Company officials recommended the idea of closing the plant in 2020.
“The Public Utilities Commission approved an Otter Tail Power recommendation that the utility company install pollution control equipment to comply with mercury and air toxic standards by 2015, and make plans to retire the plant in 2020,” said Cris Oehler, director, public relations for Otter Tail Power. “(The decision) wasn’t a surprise. It was based on our recommendation.” . . .
. . .In today’s meeting, the PUC also ordered Otter Tail Power to consider stronger energy efficiency and expanded renewable energy in their future integrated resource planning process. . . .
Though enviromental groups agreed the decision takes a step in the right direction, they have urged OTP to consider the retirement of the Hoot Lake Plant sooner than 2020.
“Mercury emitted from the Hoot Lake coal plant affects our water in western Minnesota,” said Duane Ninneman, Renewable Energy Program Director of Clean Up the River Environment (CURE). “Today’s decision will lower the risk of mercury contamination in our waterways. Phasing out coal vastly improves the health of the surrounding community and helps us keep our water clean. Every day that pollution comes from the Hoot Lake plant, our health is put at risk.”
Other clean energy allies echoed the same concerns about Hoot Lake’s retirement timeline. . . .
Read the rest at the Fergus Falls Journal. Given the troubles with mercury burning coal creates, we hope that Rep. Franson will reconsider sponsoring HF 306, which repeals renewable energy standards in favor of polite suggestions.
Photo: Michael Beard, R-Shakopee, has faith in God's creation, if it's coal. Those renewables? Not so much.
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