Programs

In 2006, the governor of Minnesota proposed the Next Generation Energy Initiativem designed as a means of developing strategies for focusing public attention on renewable energy, energy conservation, and the need to lower carbon emissions. The following spring, the state created the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group (MCCAG), composed of 51 individuals representing business, utilities, environment, academics, religious organizations, the private

Although Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes, air and water quality is being threatened by climate change. Recreation and tourism are being placed at risk by shorter winters, and the habits of coldwater fish are being jeopardized.

sector, farming, local government, and Native Americans. MCCAG was charged with developing a statewide plan for reducing and sequestering greenhouse gas emissions and promoting the use of clean energy.

In 2006, Minnesota's proposed plan to reduce toxic power plant emissions won approval. The plan required Minnesota Power and Xcel Energy to cut mercury emissions at coal-fired power plants by 90 percent. As a result, Minnesota Power announced that it would spend $200 million purchasing pollution control equipment that would lower sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 80 percent and mercury emissions by at least 90 percent.

Clean Air Minnesota was created under the auspices of the Minnesota Environmental Initiative. Composed of representatives from government, business, and the public, the organization promotes voluntary reductions in emissions from volatile organic compounds, nitrogen oxides, and fine particulate matter. In 2005, government agencies, business, and private organizations again came together to create Project Green Fleet, which focused on reducing pollution emitted by the state's 500 school buses. Recognizing that levels of pollution were five times higher inside school buses than outside, the group expressed concern about the health of Minnesota's children. Over a two-year period, school buses were retrofitted with pollution control equipment. Project Green Fleet also joined with local businesses to protest rising levels of heart and lung disease and asthma that were attributed in part to toxic emissions from motor vehicles.

In 1991, the Releaf Program was established for the purpose of reducing CO2 levels by planting, maintaining, and improving trees. Funding for the program was derived from an environmental trust fund, the lottery, and private and corporate sources. In the first 10 years of operation, 361 trees were planted, and approximately 200 communities became involved in the project. The Releaf Program also serves in an advisory capacity, encouraging homeowners to reduce global warming and climate change in such simple ways as planting shade trees and wind breaks. Despite assurances that tree planting is essential to the sequestering of carbon, the future of the Releaf Program is in question because of a lack of funding.

sEE ALsO: Alternative Energy, Ethanol; Energy; Regulation; Transportation.

bibliography. Minnesota Governor's Office, www.gov-ernor.state.mn.us (cited November 2007); Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, www.pca.state.mn.us (cited November 2007); Pew Center for Climate Change, www. pewclimate.org (cited November 2007).

Elizabeth R. Purdy Independent Scholar

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