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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

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President Biden Tests Positive for Covid; Report: SD ethanol plants release hazardous air pollutants; Report: CA giant sequoia groves in peril after megafires.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Could other exceptions come with MN's new carbon-free law?

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Wednesday, June 19, 2024   

Minnesota is sorting out details ahead of trying to meet its 100% carbon-free electricity goal by 2040.

Some environmental advocates feel energy sources being floated to regulators would defeat the purpose of the new law. The state's Public Utilities Commission is accepting public comment until July 10 on which technologies should make the list of energy options defined under the law. Utilities, advocacy organizations and others are lining up with their input.

Hudson Kingston, legal director for the group Clean Up the River Environment, worried certain recommendations he feels are dubious will make the final cut.

"Comments suggesting that burning wood, burning biomass, burning trash are all -- in some people's way of thinking -- carbon free, even though when you burn things like trash or wood, you are emitting quite a lot of carbon," Kingston pointed out.

The Minnesota Forest Resources Partnership contended burning limbs from harvested trees, or wood left over from fires or disease restoration projects, is a viable substitute for fossil-fuel production. The group said there would also be reductions in harmful sulfur and mercury going into the air. Initial public comments will be accepted by June 28. The deadline for reply comments is July 10.

Kingston noted bringing the definition into focus has a lot to do with what is considered a renewable energy source versus green technology emitting no carbon at all.

"It was a political decision a while ago that burning certain things could be considered a renewable," Kingston explained. "But under the carbon-free standard, there is no such list from the Legislature that gives burning things an out."

Even with regulators seeking clarity through public comment, Kingston feels the new law is clear in only leaning on proven carbon-free sources. In adopting the landmark policy last year, Minnesota leaders allowed for other exceptions, namely "offramps" for utilities struggling to meet the standard if clean-energy technologies are too costly or hinder grid reliability.


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