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ENEWS: MN Clean Cars, Inequality Widens, Solar in Schools

Date Published: 09/27/2019

Author: Dane Smith and Sarah Leistico

Minnesota accelerates “Clean Cars’’ effort

Minnesota Gov. Tim. Walz this week unveiled new plans to reduce carbon emissions in Minnesota through a new “Clean Cars” initiative that would require manufacturers to offer more “low-and-zero” emission choices to auto buyers.  While low-emission and electric vehicles are a part of the way forward towards a cleaner and more equitable future, the Minnesota Equity Blueprint also recommends a comprehensive transportation package including transit expansion and accessibility: “The Minnesota Legislature (with input from public and private local partners) must develop long-range transportation policies and allocate $6.5 billion to support the next decade of substantial new investment required to address both current realities and future demographic shifts and needs.”

Census shows inequality widening further

Our work at Growth & Justice is driven by concerns about rising inequality, racial and regional disparity, and cataclysmic climate change.  Almost daily we see in the news reinforcing data that define the reality of these existential challenges.  The latest comes from the U.S. Census Bureau report, summarized in an Associated Press story: “Income inequality in the United States expanded from 2017 to 2018, with several heartland states among the leaders of the increase, even though several wealthy coastal states still had the most inequality overall.”

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance debuts solar in school

A few months ago, Thriving by Design rolled out the Minnesota Equity Blueprint’s chapter on economic development in Little Falls, MN. One of the regional initiatives highlighted, Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL), recently celebrated the completion of a solar array at Pine River-Backus High School that is one of six Central Minnesota campus sites. The project, coordinated by Region Five Development Commission (one of Growth & Justice's partners) is now coming to fruition after several years of community efforts.  MPR reports that this investment is not only producing clean energy, but also educating students on renewable energy and stimulating the region’s economic development.

Quote:  “[That energy savings] could mean a teacher… So if we run into a budget shortfall somewhere down the road, now we have something that might be able to keep that position in place.” Dave Endicott, Superintendent of Pine River-Backus School District quoted in MPR article above about the district cost-savings with solar energy.

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