Latest Posts





Are Liberal Minnesota Energy Policies Making Pollution Worse?

Improving Minnesota’s air quality is often used as justification for mandating wind and solar on our electric grid, and now groups like Fresh Energy want to ban the use of natural gas for heating new buildings. However, there is a very persuasive argument to be made that these policies will actually result in making Minnesota’s air quality worse.

First of all, it’s important to note that Minnesota’s air is already very clean. The graph below is from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and it shows Minnesota meets federal air quality standards for ozone, fine particles, lead, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide.

Furthermore, a plurality of these already-low emissions come from neighborhood sources, such as dry cleaners, home heating, backyard fires, etc. Just 21 percent come from all industrial facilities in the state, which is very impressive.

However, MPCA notes that emissions from wood-burning for home heating are rising, which as we have noted, is one of the largest sources of emissions in Minnesota.

According to MPCA, “Survey data indicates residential wood burning, unlike other air pollution sources, is increasing as more wood is being burned for home heating and in residential backyard fire pits. Residential wood burning is a sizable contributor to fine-particle emissions and can aggravate health conditions such as asthma.

If reducing emissions to the lowest-amount possible is a priority for MPCA, the trend toward increasing use of wood for home heating should be worrisome. However, the agency should consider that it is liberal energy and environmental policies that will potentially be to blame.

Increasing electricity prices, driven by mandates to use renewable energy in Minnesota could incentivize more people to use or install wood-burning stoves in their homes to save money. Xcel Energy’s proposed rate increases will cost the average household an additional $200 per year, and this rate increase will pale in comparison to future rate increases required to pay for their capital spending on wind turbines and transmission lines.

Furthermore, taxes on carbon dioxide emissions from heating oil and natural gas- or banning these fuels entirely- will likely have similar implications in rural areas where woodburning is more common. This trend was observed in Greece, where air quality suffered as the result of the populace burning more wood to avoid additional taxes on heating fuel.

Bureaucratic mandates that make electricity more expensive will have tangible, negative impacts for air quality, and these impacts will occur the most in areas of the state that are the most sensitive to changes in the price of heating fuels. This is why renewable energy mandates and carbon taxes are inherently regressive, they make energy more expensive for those who can least afford the increase in costs.




Upcoming Events

  • Webinar: Say NO to California Car Mandates

    Location: Online

    Sign up for this online webinar HERE! Governor Walz wants to force Minnesota drivers to comply with California’s vehicle regulations. This would make driving in Minnesota more expensive and less safe. Join Center of the American Experiment on January 28th at noon to discuss the California Car Mandates being proposed in Minnesota, and why we should oppose them. Sign up for this online webinar HERE!

    Register Now
  • Exploring Education Options in Rochester

    Location: Online Event

     Sign up HERE! For many students and families, a distance learning model has proved challenging. But there are alternative learning environments that parents are considering and pursuing to better meet the specific needs of their children. Join Catrin Wigfall, policy fellow at Center of the American Experiment, for this free online event to learn about the variety of education options available in Rochester and how giving families choices leads to better educational outcomes. Thursday, January 21 at noon CT Sign up HERE!

    Register Now