A billion dollars for climate action in Minnesota

by Peter LaFontaine

Given a $7.7 billion surplus, this $1 billion plan would help Minnesota meet greenhouse gas reduction goals and support clean-water crops and continuous living cover. Sign up as a River Guardian to advocate for the river this session. (Photo of Kernza: Dodd Demas)

On January 18, the Minnesota House Climate Action Caucus introduced an ambitious $1 billion Climate Action Plan to address the climate crisis.

The newly released plan lays out a comprehensive strategy to achieve the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change consensus goal of a 45% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and a carbon-free future by 2050. The plan aims to achieve these goals while helping to create jobs, lower household costs and contribute to a more equitable and just society. (You can read the full plan document here.)

How this plan moves clean-water crops forward

The action plan outlines spending across five categories that would put us in a much better position to face the future. Friends of the Mississippi River is particularly excited by what's in the "Lands" category, including substantial allocations for several of our biggest priorities:

  • $20 million to develop agricultural products and practices that conserve soil and water while driving economic opportunity. (That is, funding the research and development programs within Forever Green and providing assistance to the farmers on the leading edge of this work.)
  • $10 million to invest in diverse crops that provide ground cover and economic opportunities throughout the entire year. (Building the supply chains and supporting the local businesses that ultimately get Forever Green crops, or clean-water crops, into the market.)
  • $40 million to support the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP), the Minnesota Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), Lawns to Legumes, and other state programs that conserve native habitat. (CRP and CREP are especially important tools for preserving large areas of grassland and other habitat.)
  • $20 million in soil health initiatives that promote cover crops, conservation tillage, diversified crop rotations and managed rotational grazing systems. 

We're thrilled to see the focus on Forever Green and the "market-based continuous living cover" model, the keystone of FMR's agriculture strategy. We have been working with partners for years to advocate for this model, believing it to be the most realistic path by which the farm sector can reach true sustainability and get agricultural pollution in check.

This plan shows that our message has clicked for Minnesota lawmakers — it's not a niche concept anymore, but a real possibility.

The climate change plan we need

The other parts of the plan address energy, transportation, the built environment, and adaptation and resilience — all of which will be critical to securing a livable future in our changing climate. (Read more about FMR's work and climate change.)

A billion dollars may sound like a lot, but held up against the potential costs and consequences for inaction, this is just a down payment to kick-start the real work ahead. Minnesota state leaders are trying to figure out how to apportion the current $7.7 billion budget surplus, so there is no excuse for inaction: We have the money and we definitely have the need. Let's get this done!

FMR applauds the efforts of the Climate Action Caucus and urges the Legislature to pass these commonsense and forward-thinking measures. We'll be in touch with our River Guardians about when to strategically advocate for their legislators to support this plan this legislative session.

Read our letter to MN House legislators here.

You can help!

Act Now

With just one click, you can ask your representative, senator and the governor to support the House Climate Caucus proposal. 

Act today.

Become a River Guardian

Sign up to become a River Guardian, and we'll let you know when important river issues like this arise. We make it quick and easy to contact decision-makers and make your voice heard. River Guardians are also invited to special events, including happy hours, to learn more about important legislative and metro river corridor issues.

Keep up to date

We write regular Water program and Legislative updates about key environment and water quality issues. You can find them on social media (Facebook and Twitter) and in our e-newsletter, Mississippi Messages.

Check out the full slate of FMR's legislative priorities.