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Combat climate change: 'Minnesota has been a leader'

(Adam Zyglis / Cagle Cartoons)

"Minnesota has been a leader. The national government is catching up. But this is a big issue. It’s important to have a national standard. And then what we really like about this plan is that (it’s being left) up to the states to meet with people and stakeholders (and to determine state-by-state how to meet the standards). How will it work best for Minnesota? …

“The reason to focus on (coal-fired) power plants is they’re the biggest source of carbon pollution, (accounting for) about a third of the carbon pollution in Minnesota. Nationwide, that number is 40 percent. We’re lower because we’ve already taken steps. We have a renewable energy standard and lots of energy efficiency. So we’re ahead of the game, which is good news. …

“The biggest thing the national government had done on climate was a couple of years ago with the auto industry. When Detroit got some assistance from the federal government, part of the discussion was, ‘Well, we want to make sure that we’re building better and better cars.’ We hadn’t improved fuel-economy standards for quite some time, and now it’s the law of the land that by 2025 we’re going to get fuel economy that is going to average 54.5 mpg. …

“So, building on that, it was important to have a national standard, not just a Minnesota standard or a Wisconsin standard. …

 “Minnesota is the third-fastest warming state in the last 40 or 50 years. This takes some of us by surprise, but a lot of people who spend time outdoors are noticing changes in the trees, changes in the distribution of animals, the moose population. … And those changes are happening 10 (times) to 100 times faster than they have in the past, so that’s why a lot of wildlife managers and scientists are saying, ‘Well, can the wildlife adapt to the fast changes and can humans adapt and what will the costs be to that?’ ”

J. Drake Hamilton, science policy director for Fresh Energy, a St. Paul-based nonprofit that advocates for clean and efficient energy alternatives, in an interview this month with the News Tribune Opinion page

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