State leaders discuss electric cars, solar at forum

Published: Aug. 6, 2021 at 4:29 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 9, 2021 at 5:01 PM CDT
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NORTH MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - South Central Minnesota Clean Energy Council hosted state leaders for a public discussion on energy and climate issues in the state legislature.

A hot topic met that with debate: How Minnesota is the latest state to Adopt Clean Cars Standards, requiring more electric vehicles to be offered in dealerships.

The standards set by Gov. Walz, are an effort to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

“What we are seeing as a state and the world is that electric vehicles and renewable energy is the trend going forward, that is where the demand is growing. We want to make sure as a state and as a country, we are ahead of that as well which is why I wanted to put electric vehicle charging infrastructure in now to pave support to that going forward. We are already seeing on a global level foreign car manufacturers all-in on electric vehicles and I sure would love to go to an auto dealership in Mankato and buy an electric car that was made in America,” said Rep. Luke Fredrick (DFL-Mankato)

While the new rule doesn’t take effect until 2025, the standards have met pushbacks.

“What I heard from one auto dealer in Mankato is they are under a mandate to have (x) number of electric cars, they are not happy, they feel that is an unnecessary burden on them to carry those cars on their lot...they don’t think they will be able to sell them, said Rep. Susan Akland (R-St. Peter)

Onto the promotion of more solar, Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) discussed the issue of whether state programs subsidizing solar panels support countries that use slave labor to mine for metals such as cobalt, lithium and nickel used in lithium batteries and solar panels.

“We had an amendment on the floor at the end of the session to actually ban slavery just from the solar panels put on the rooftops of schools and every single Democrat except one of them voted against that amendment because it would effectively ban all solar,” said Munson.

“Our priority right now is to address climate change with carbon emissions, we want to reduce them we aren’t going to stop buying solar panels because of a country any more than we are going to stop buying Nike shoes because of a country’s labor violation...we have a process through the federal government to address other countries and their labor practices and I think we should keep doing that,” said Sen. Frentz. (DFL-North Mankato)

In addition, the advancement of biofuels was met with bipartisan support.

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