Most Minnesotans think of the state chamber of commerce as a benign organization. It’s not.
It states that it seeks to “promote cost-efficient energy and sustainability” in 2021. Sounds good, doesn’t it? But scratch the surface and examine the chamber’s lobbying efforts this year: A different picture emerges.
As a March 16 commentary in the News Tribune argued (Statewide View: Minnesota Chamber members are needed to insist on meaningful climate action), the Minnesota Chamber has consistently lobbied against clean-energy legislation even when it would result in significant cost savings to users and a cleaner climate in Minnesota. Why would it do this? I feel it’s because the chamber’s agenda is unduly influenced by a small group of legacy industries like fossil-fuel companies, the Koch Brothers, and Pine Bend Refinery. Fossil-fuel industries oppose a shift toward cleaner and more cost-effective renewable energy because it would hurt their bottom lines.
The Minnesota Chamber’s John Reynolds, in a commentary also on March 16 in the News Tribune (“Statewide View: No, the Minnesota Chamber does not oppose clean-energy policies”), purported to be distinguishing facts from fiction. But he really just seemed to be peddling alternative facts and ignoring scientifically established facts such as the need to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2050. If we don’t do this, we jeopardize Minnesota livelihoods in farming and forestry, as well as vast amounts of Minnesota infrastructure.
Minnesota did not meet its greenhouse-gas targets in 2015 and is unlikely to meet 2025 targets largely due to a lack of progress in the transportation sector. Proposed clean-car standards would go far toward addressing this problem. However, as with the ECO bill and the Conservation Improvement Program bill, the chamber opposes clean-car standards and seems to be fighting to ensure Minnesotans continue to drive pollution-emitting vehicles.
It’s time the chamber supported the interests of all Minnesotans and not just those of a few affluent industries.
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