Minnesota is one of the leaders in green energy adoption in the United States. Our largest utility, Xcel Energy, is set on generating and delivering 100% of its electricity by renewable sources by 2050. Minnesota reached its goal of a 25% renewable energy standard eight years ahead of schedule. This thanks to legislation passed by Governor Tim Pawlenty. A study from the McKnight Foundation shows that Minnesota can achieve a 91% standard. It can be done cost-effectively, using current technologies. We can do it, we need to do it.
Greater amounts of renewable energy are the key to a future Minnesota citizens will appreciate. Failure to lead in this fuels the effects of human-caused climate change. The first to feel the effects of climate change will be those that work the land, farmers. Climate change is predicted to increase the number of days above 90 degrees to 80 in Goodhue County, while also increasing precipitation 10-30% by 2070 according to the Union of Concerned Scientists of the USA (UCSUSA). These erratic climate changes will lead to crop failures. Crop failures will lead to failing family farms.
We must also address nuclear energy. The community needs the jobs at Xcel Energy's Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Station. It also needs the electricity. In fact, 20% of the electricity consumed by Xcel customers in the Upper Midwest is produced at this sight. Nuclear power plants are cleaner than coal or natural gas, but still produce waste. High-level radioactive waste is a huge concern as it has to be kept underground. The sites must be free of seismic activity and provide storage deep underground. The waste then requires thousands of years to return to safe levels. Should these materials be damaged in transport or their facilities experience a catastrophe our people and planet would suffer. For these reasons I do not support the expansion of nuclear power. But I do support the reeducation of engineers and plant workers. I want them to be able to move into careers that use their strengths within the renewable energy fields.
Forty percent of the jobs in green energy are in greater Minnesota, according to MinnPost. An increase in renewable energy also keeps the $13 billion spent annually on fossil fuels in the state. Thus, I will work to support and pass laws that limit our need for fossil fuels and our impact on the environment.