Minnesota lawmakers helped secure a better future for current Minnesotans and generations to come when they passed the 100% Clean Energy Law. Climate change is a very real threat and a a top concern for Minnesotans. The clean energy law was a top priority for elected officials because carbon-free electricity is the backbone of efforts to reduce emissions across our economy.
The 100% Clean Energy law will require utilities such as to zero out greenhouse gas emissions at least 10 years ahead of schedule. In order to meet the goal affordably and reliably, utilities will need to access every tool in the toolbox, including technologies that capture, remove, transport, reuse and store carbon dioxide (CO2) that would otherwise be released into the air as pollution.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Carbon management has even greater potential to help Minnesota achieve economy-wide greenhouse gas reduction goals by sharply reducing emissions associated with industrial processes including the production of ammonia, cement, fuels and steel, to name just a few examples.
Minnesota has the opportunity to create an annual average of up to 1,030 project jobs over a 15-year period and 680 ongoing operations jobs through the deployment of carbon capture at 19 industrial and power facilities. The retrofit of equipment at these facilities has the potential to capture 16.6 million metric tons of CO2 per year that would otherwise enter the atmosphere. Carbon capture technologies would generate up to $3.1 billion in private investment in our state alone.
Further, even if fossil fuel production and consumption stopped tomorrow, we would still need move the billions of tons of harmful carbon emissions that have been accumulating for 200 years.
Carbon management projects are a proven technology that should be implemented to reduce CO2 emissions from industrial and power generation sources. In fact, rapid and widespread deployment is the quickest way to improve carbon management technologies while reducing costs, just as rapid and widespread deployment contributed to sharp reductions in the costs of wind and solar power over the past decade.
Heavy-emitting industrial facilities, including steel, cement, chemicals manufacturing, ammonia, natural gas processing, ethanol and power, cannot reliably transition to 100% renewable sources yet. We must store and reduce their emissions while providing the workforce of the future with jobs today.
The climate debate can no longer pit technologies against each other but must recognize that all mitigation solutions need to be deployed as soon as possible. Carbon capture and storage and renewables are partner technologies working toward the same objective: decarbonization. With the 100% Clean Energy Law, we’re even closer to this objective. With carbon management, we can achieve it.
Kevin Pranis is the marketing manager for the Laborers’ International Union of North America in Minnesota and North Dakota and serves on Gov. Tim Walz’s Climate Advisory Council.