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Day of action focuses on CT undocumented's healthcare needs; 7 jurors seated in first Trump criminal trial; ND looks to ease 'upskill' obstacles for former college students; Black Maternal Health Week ends, health disparities persist.

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Seven jury members were seated in Trump's hush money case. House Speaker Johnson could lose his job over Ukraine aid. And the SCOTUS heard oral arguments in a case that could undo charges for January 6th rioters.

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Fears grow that low-income folks living in USDA housing could be forced out, North Carolina's small and Black-owned farms are helped by new wind and solar revenues, and small towns are eligible for grants to boost civic participation..

MN transportation sector could be next in line for carbon-free standard

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Monday, March 4, 2024   

Minnesota already has a law calling for 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. Now, there's a similar plan for transportation, and a legislative committee will consider the idea today.

The clean transportation standard has a target year of 2050 for phasing out carbon-intensive fuel sources for cars and trucks.

Producers slow to adapt would have to buy credits, while companies distributing cleaner products would receive incentives.

Transportation accounts for about a quarter of Minnesota's greenhouse gas emissions, and Fresh Energy's Senior Lead for Innovation and Impact Margaret Cherne-Hendrick said this approach could help reduce that total.

She pointed to newer types of biofuels, beyond standards like ethanol.

"For example, winter oil seeds are better for the environment," said Cherne-Hendrick. "They require much less fertilizer. "

University of Minnesota researchers note these seeds could benefit parts of the transportation sector that face challenges in going electric, such as heavy-duty trucks.

Under the bill, fuel sources would be graded on their carbon intensity - to determine where they rate with the standard.

Skeptics, including some environmental researchers, say the plan could have unintended consequences in reducing emissions.

State Senate Transportation Committee Chair Scott Dibble - DFL-Minneapolis - said while there's a strong push for electric vehicle adoption, many people right now still have to buy cars powered by traditional fuel sources.

"The market penetration is still very small for EVs," said Dibble, "and they're going to own and operate that liquid fuel-based car for the coming 20 plus years."

As the EV market takes shape, he said it makes sense to fill these other cars with the cleanest fuels possible.

There's still a lot to sort out in establishing the standard, and Dibble acknowledged it might have to start as a goal, given the current state of fuel technology.

His bill calls for a one-time appropriation of $900,000 for implementation, but Dibble insisted the incentives market would largely support itself in the long-term.

Disclosure: Fresh Energy contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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