Environmental leaders and organizations say Gov. Tim Walz isn’t doing enough for Minnesota’s climate.

The North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club, along with other environmental organizations, issued a mid-term “report card” on Walz’s climate policies.

The report was critical of Walz’s proposed budgets on transit, and inaction on blocking Enbridge’s Line 3 project that will transport oil from Canada through Minnesota. The line, which would cross 200 bodies of water, including lakes, wetlands and rivers, and Native American tribal land where wild rice is grown, has sparked ongoing protests.

“As a coalition, we've found Gov. Walz is falling short of his abilities and what our communities and climate need,” said Margaret Levin, state director of the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The coalition included Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Land Stewardship Project, League of Women Voters, Minnesota Environmental Partnership, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, MN350, Ojibwes for Responsible Government, and other groups.

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Walz’s best mark comes under energy policy, which puts Minnesota on target for 100% clean energy by 2040, with interim targets of 80% carbon-free by 2030 and 90% by 2035.

Mary Blitzer, spokesperson for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, said Walz has campaigned on climate issues, but his policies have so far fallen short of those promises.

“Walz has done very little so far, and what he does do, he does in such small, incremental steps,” she said.

Blitzer pointed to a Minnesota Department of Transportation report that shows transportation emissions are now the largest single source of carbon emissions in the state.

Investing in clean transportation and transit initiatives would address that. Instead, Walz’s proposed budget keeps transportation funding level. Walz’s predecessor, Gov. Mark Dayton, had pushed for a half-cent sales tax in the Twin Cities to fund transit investment.

“We’ve actually gone backward,” Blitzer said.

A statement from Walz’s office didn’t address any of the specific criticisms in the report, but reaffirmed his commitment to addressing climate change and carbon emissions in the state. The statement pointed to the clean energy policy, in which the report gives him a “B,” as an example.

“Governor Walz is committed to taking bold, effective action to address climate change and reduce Minnesota’s greenhouse gas emissions,” the statement said. “The Governor agrees that we face a climate crisis and he looks forward to continuing to build on the current work to move Minnesota forward towards decarbonization.”

The statement also notes Walz’s proposed Clean Cars initiative, which would require auto manufacturers to supply Minnesota with more electric cars.

Blitzer said the report card isn’t meant to shame Walz, but to push for more aggressive climate policies.

“If nobody calls the governor into account, he’ll focus on other priorities,” she said.

Source: Sierra Club North Star Chapter's report card on Gov. Waz's climate policies
Source: Sierra Club North Star Chapter's report card on Gov. Waz's climate policies

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the state director of the North Star Chapter of the Sierra Club as Mary Levin.