Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast

Our Clean Energy and Climate Plans for the 2023 Legislative Session

December 21, 2022 Season 3 Episode 23
Our Clean Energy and Climate Plans for the 2023 Legislative Session
Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast
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Decarbonize: The Clean Energy Podcast
Our Clean Energy and Climate Plans for the 2023 Legislative Session
Dec 21, 2022 Season 3 Episode 23

The 2023 session of the Minnesota Legislature begins on January 3. Join the Fresh Energy team for a conversation about our plans and expectations for the coming session. The discussion will touch on  Minnesota’s clean energy opportunities, federal action, committee assignments, budget surplus, our policy goals, and more!

Podcast Guests:
Michael Noble, Executive Director
Anna Johnson, Senior Associate of Public Affairs
Host: Jo Olson, Director of Communications and Engagement

Further Reading:
- Blog: Our top 22 accomplishments of 2022

Listeners can stay up to date on our work via our once monthly email list, blog at, or by following us on Facebook and Twitter. You can support Fresh Energy’s work for a clean energy Minnesota by making a donation today!

Show Notes Transcript

The 2023 session of the Minnesota Legislature begins on January 3. Join the Fresh Energy team for a conversation about our plans and expectations for the coming session. The discussion will touch on  Minnesota’s clean energy opportunities, federal action, committee assignments, budget surplus, our policy goals, and more!

Podcast Guests:
Michael Noble, Executive Director
Anna Johnson, Senior Associate of Public Affairs
Host: Jo Olson, Director of Communications and Engagement

Further Reading:
- Blog: Our top 22 accomplishments of 2022

Listeners can stay up to date on our work via our once monthly email list, blog at, or by following us on Facebook and Twitter. You can support Fresh Energy’s work for a clean energy Minnesota by making a donation today!

Jo Olsen: [00:00:01] Hello and welcome to Decarbonize the Clean Energy Podcast from Fresh Energy. Fresh Energy is a Minnesota  nonprofit working to speed our state's transition to a clean energy economy. My name is Joe Olsen. I'm the senior director of communication and engagement here at Fresh Energy and also your host For today, I'm excited to be joined by Fresh Energy's executive director, Michael Noble, and Anna Johnson, senior associate on our public affairs team. Welcome.


Anna Johnson: [00:00:33] Thanks, Joe. Hey, Michael.


Michael Noble: [00:00:35] Hi, Hannah. This is so much fun.


Anna Johnson: [00:00:37] Yeah, happy to be here.


Jo Olsen: [00:00:39] Well, thank you both for being here and for our listeners. We are here today because the 2023 session of the Minnesota legislature is nearly upon us, and there's a lot to talk about. Minnesota is in a really unique situation this year where the House, the Senate and the governorship are all controlled by one party. In addition to that, we have a budget surplus. Bonding and budget proposals are on the table, and Minnesota agencies are already writing and submitting plans for spending dollars allocated to Minnesota in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as IIJA, as well as the Inflation Reduction Act, also known as the IRA or IRA. And there's a ton more happening, too and today we're going to talk about it all or close to it all. Our plan is to take the next 40 to 45 minutes or so of this podcast to dig in a little deeper into our expectations and hopes for session. So before we start discussing the 2023 session here in Minnesota, let's hop in the Wayback Machine and talk about the past 12 months because a few things have happened. The 2022 Minnesota legislative session was not as productive for clean energy and climate as we had hoped it would be. But some serious federal action happened with IIJA and the IRA, which I both already mentioned. Michael and Anna. Can you give us the five minute rundown on how federal action will impact Minnesota's 2023 legislative session, which just so our listeners know, starts on January 3rd? Anna, why don't you give us the details on IIJA and Michael? You can talk about the IRA. Anna kick us off.


Anna Johnson: [00:02:26] Yeah, Thanks, Joe. Well, a lot to talk about here. So in mid-November of 2021, President Biden signed into law the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, colloquially colloquially known as the Infrastructure bill or Bipartisan infrastructure law. And because of IIJA, there are already significant funds heading to Minnesota for things like electric vehicles, public transit, weatherization assistance, transmission and grid upgrades, coal plant, community transmission transition and more. So a lot of really, really good important stuff and a lot of really needed investment and some real bread and butter type of projects. However, in order for Minnesota to access some of these funds, some of them are formula funds and some of them require matching dollars from the state. And that was a hang up at the legislature last year, allocating those matching funds that are a little bit discretionary. So although there was a deal reached among the Energy and Commerce Committees last year to put up matching funds, that bill was held up by other, more global negotiations among leadership, and no dollars were set aside for the IIJA  matching funds last year.  So we really, really have to get that done this year and it would be great to get it done early because applications for quarter one are going to be coming up and we want to be able to make sure Minnesota is ready to submit those funding requests. And Minnesota agencies are already building and submitting their plans. And so far, fresh energy has engaged in state plans for the weatherization assistance program funds, National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, also known as NEV I . And more plans underway now. So strategic, equitable and effective state plans are a really critical step in securing federal funding and fresh energy is committed to ensuring Minnesota maximizes the opportunities presented by federal investments and surplus dollars, which are at a historic high right now, could hugely help with required matching funds. And Minnesota legislature will just really need to move on this before we lose out. This is one of our very top priorities for the legislative session this year.


Jo Olsen: [00:04:43] Thank you. Anna and Michael, do you want to talk about the IRA?


Michael Noble: [00:04:48] Sure. You know, the Inflation Reduction Act, I think was a silly name, was chosen more for politics than any description of what was in the bill. But, you know, everybody say it's the largest climate bill in American political history. Always cites the number, $369 billion of spending. But, you know, $369 billion was just the estimate from the Congressional Budget Office how much money would go out. But two thirds of all the programs are really programs where you're entitled to get the money. If you do the thing you put in the heat pump, you get the money, you buy the particular electric car, you get the money, you put up the solar farm and get the money, put up the wind farm, you get the money. And Credit Suisse did an analysis that they thought the actual spending over ten years would probably be closer to 800 billion, more than double what the Congress estimated. And of course, private investment is being led just leveraged so there'd be another trillion dollars. So I think of an inflation reduction act as $1.8 trillion of investment in the right stuff over a decade. And that's enough to really completely transform the American economy. So not doing too much over the top, but this is not just the climate bill. This is the jobs and labor bill. This is the manufacturing bring manufacturing home bill. This is an industrial policy, trade policy. This is a transformative moment in American economic history to center our economy around the industries of the future that solve the climate problem.


Michael Noble: [00:06:25] And I couldn't be happier and prouder of President Biden and our own United States Senator Tina Smith. And I want to say one unfortunate thing is that no Republican in the United States Congress voted for this bill. A signifier of how much more partisan these issues are than fresh energy thinks they need to be. And the bill will forever be associated with Senator Joe Manchin, a coal state coal baron in a state with Donald Trump won by 40 points. He helped put the bill together, and yet no suburban moderate Republican in a suburb of Atlanta or Philadelphia or Phoenix or New York or anywhere in California, no moderate Republican brought themselves to vote for climate legislation. That is very, very unfortunate that climate is still partisan. So big, big opportunity. And Minnesota has to step up to capture these dollars. You know, we're above average. We don't want to just get our fair share. We want to get way more than our fair share. And because these programs are uncapped, there's really unlimited opportunity. And we'll be talking to committee chairs in both the House and the Senate and to the governor's office. We're already talking to the governor's office about how Minnesota can maximize this historic opportunity to leverage the federal IRA dollars in by having the state be really, really well prepared and incentivizing the things that need to be incentivized.


Jo Olsen: [00:08:03] Thank you, Michael. Well put. And Anna. Very helpful. Thank you. So let's talk about the makeup of the Minnesota legislature this year. Have committee chairs been assigned yet? And if so, what are the implications there? Is there anything we are especially excited about? Michael, why don't you kick us off on this question?


Michael Noble: [00:08:25] Well, how about if I start with the leadership in the House? You know, the speaker of the House is a former Energy Committee chair, Melissa Hartman, and now the majority leader in the House is a former Energy Committee chair. Jamie Long. The committee that he had jurisdiction in last year was called the Climate and Energy Policy and Finance Committee. And now that's going to be chaired by Minnetonka legislator Patty Acomb, a climate hawk and a passionate supporter of Fresh Energy. I was actually at our benefit breakfast this year, and Athena Hollins, who carried a fresh energy bill, is the assistant majority leader working with Representative Long. So all four energy leaders, Hortman, Long, Hollonds and Acomb are all very close to fresh energy and super passionate about taking on the climate challenge at the speed and scale of of what's required. So I'm super excited about that. Over in the Senate, Kerry Dziedzic from Northeast Minneapolis is the new majority leader and she's been a champion, a clean energy and climate champion. She hasn't served on the committee and hasn't been necessarily a go to vote for debate or for carrying bills. But she's always been with us on clean energy and climate. And the Minnesota Senate elected the first African American to be the president of the Senate, Bobby Joe Champion from North Minneapolis, as the president of the Senate and longtime friend, climate hawk and former Energy Committee chair John Marty is now the chair of the Finance Committee and longtime friend and rest who carried a carbon tax back in the 1990s. So fresh energy would. She was the House committee chair almost 20 years ago. She's now going to chair the tax committee in the Minnesota Senate. And Nick Frentz of North Mankato has been the long time chief author of the 100% clean electricity standard. And now he chairs the Committee on Energy. So we have friends, friends, friends, friends in all the important spots.


Anna Johnson: [00:10:48] Yeah, it's a really exciting moment and also I think just reflects the, you know, more and more people, legislators are running their campaigns and including climate and energy as part of their platforms and something that they really care about. So it's just it's great to see folks who are interested in climate and energy and more and more being elected to the legislature, and then also to see friends who prioritize this in leadership positions. We're really excited to work with everybody. I'll also jump in. There's a lot of firsts and kind of historic moments as part of the makeup of this legislature. In addition to the first black Senate president, Bobby Joe Champion in the House, the the first black woman minority leader, Lisa Demuth, is also in that position for the first time, which is fantastic to see. Also, in 164 years of Minnesota statehood, there has never been a black woman senator. And we, not Minnesotans, elected not only the first, but the first, second and third black female senator. So that's pretty exciting to in the House. Also, there is a first ever openly transgender member, which is great to see and great to see just broader representation among the legislature overall. And I know there's a lot of firsts, a lot of historic moments happening right now, so I'm sure I overlooked a couple, but those are some of the highlights. Also add to that we're really excited about Governor Walz's climate action plan, and we'll be really focused on making sure that plan, which took about a year to write, comes into fruition. That included broad stakeholder input on several several different working groups like green, clean transportation, climate, smart, natural and working lands, resilient communities, clean energy and efficient buildings, healthy lives and communities, and a clean economy. Fresh energy staff worked closely with the administration and those working groups. And now that we have a plan, we've got to make sure we stick to it. And the Minnesota legislature has a role to play in bringing that plan and making it into law.


Jo Olsen: [00:13:12] Thank you, Anna. And Michael. So I know that we're anticipating infused into all policy debates that are going to be happening at the legislature, including budgeting, which also needs to happen this year. There will be the hot button issue of Minnesota's $17.6 billion budget surplus. That number just went up. It was in the news, I think, a couple of weeks ago. So I'm going to say it again, $17.6 billion budget surplus. And there's a lot of conversation about how that amount of money should be spent. Michael, can you talk a bit about some of the larger themes that we just went over and how they'll play into 2023 and how you anticipate they will affect progress on clean energy and climate legislation or all legislation for that matter?


Michael Noble: [00:14:06] Well, you know, the big picture is now is our time. And rarely do you get a moment in history with the opportunity that we have right now. So one of our former board members said the thing about fresh energy is they're always ready and they just don't know exactly when is their time? And nobody predicted that we would be in a legislative season with clean energy champions in all the important leadership roles. So that's my top message, is we have to get there's a lot of pressure on fresh energy and a lot of attention on our friends, our allies and our leaders in the legislature and the governor to actually deliver now on all this pent up demand for policy that has been pushed aside and pushed aside and pushed aside. You know, on the money thing, you know, our history hasn't primarily been trying to influence budgets. We've focused more on policies. But this one time money and when I say one time, I think approximately a third of the budget surplus is a structural surplus that the legislators could spend on an ongoing basis going further forward. But approximately two thirds of the surplus is one time money that can be spent once and then it's gone. And I would just argue, and I am arguing and we will be making our case that because of this incredible opportunity of the Inflation Reduction Act and the bipartisan infrastructure bill, we don't need to do the minimum amount in order to get the federal resources. We need to do the maximum amount to make Minnesota kind of a keystone state for the clean energy economy. So the combination of having a friends in all the right places, having the incredible budget surplus and having these two major sweeping federal policies shaping America's economic future and Minnesota's economic future, I hope that the legislators will be bold and the governor will be bold.


Anna Johnson: [00:16:17] Thanks, Mike. Michael.


Jo Olsen: [00:16:20] And I'm assuming that all of you working at the legislature this year will be reminding them that we are expecting them to be bold and that all Minnesotans are expecting that of them. So let's unpack now some of Fresh Energy's, legislative priorities. It still it's still very early days to be talking about legislative priorities. So we're not going to like, you know, go go to super deep. But let's start with 100% clean electricity bill. Which side note for our listeners, Fresh Energy's Staff member Allan Gleckner was actually recently interviewed about the 100% bill on MPR. So fun tidbit there. He always hates being on the radio. So I love when we get a call from MPR for him because I like making him uncomfortable. Anna, tell us, what should our listeners know about 100% and its prospects this year?


Anna Johnson: [00:17:16] Yeah, great question. Thanks, Jo. Well, this is a flagship priority for fresh energy, this legislative session. It's a really important bill and and sets the tone and the pace for economy wide decarbonization. So this is not the first time we've taken a swing at this. So back in 2019, Governor Walz proposed a 100% carbon-free electricity standard by 2050. That bill was voted on and passed by the House at that time, but it was not adopted by the Senate in 2021. So two years of climate science and research and development and deployment of clean electricity. The governor proposed a 100% clean electricity standard, this time by 2040 rather than 2050. And again, this bill was voted on and passed by the House but was not taken up and passed by the Senate. So this year we're working off of the bill that was passed in 2021, the 100% by 2040. And both the energy and climate chairs in the House and the Senate have named that the 100% bill is a priority for this session. I think some of the details are still being worked out between each body and the governor and among stakeholders, but it's a priority for broadly across the legislature and the governor. And it is for us to and we're in coalition with several other organizations. The 100% campaign is a really broad and deep coalition with lots of nonprofits and labor and and other folks in the mix. So we have high hopes. Nothing is guaranteed, of course, and there's slim margins, but we're going to be working hard to make sure that gets across the finish line.


Michael Noble: [00:19:22] So I would be a fool to predict that it will become law. But I will say right now that I expect that it should become law, that Democrats campaigned on this and now Democrats are in charge. And so they should do what they say they will do. And this one decision would be the largest policy victory that fresh energy has ever achieved to have a law in Minnesota signed by Governor Walz that everyone who sells electricity in our state. Just 17 years from now has to supply that electricity without any pollution would be a big deal because it sets the bar, it sets the standard, it drives innovation, it drives down cost, it creates very high paying jobs. It engages local communities in hosting wind farms, solar farms, battery farms, transmission lines. It's going to bring all the innovation that we need. And Minnesota will gain. It's lost position as a national leader on climate and clean energy. If this bill does become law this year.


Jo Olsen: [00:20:44] Well, I'm curious about this. So we often say Minnesota's going to lead from the north on clean energy and climate. But off the top of your heads, do the two of you know, do any other states have 100% clean electricity standard in place?


Michael Noble: [00:20:59] Yes. We actually just were on the phone yesterday with Clean Energy States Alliance, a coalition of states that have have are tracking the states that have done it. And I believe that if you take. All the states that have passed binding laws. And a few states that have passed goals that I call them try very, very hard planning goals. And a couple of states that have executive orders that say they should do it. And legislation from Washington, D.C., which some people argue should be a state. And Puerto Rico with some people also argue should be a state. If you take all of those initiatives. There are 23 states or should be states that have policies of 100%. And that represents over half 51% of Americans are getting their electricity in states. So we're a laggard now. We're not a leader. We're a laggard. Represents about 45% of all the electricity meters in America, all the all the households and businesses buying electricity. It's nearly half. So the fact that Minnesota hasn't done this is actually a bit of an embarrassment because we always brag that we're a leader and we always, you know, the Garrison Keillor line, everybody is above average, but we're behind the curve and not above average. We're we're either at average or below average.


Michael Noble: [00:22:33] So this opportunity is for us to pass a very, very strong, very clear bill with equity and justice provisions included. And, you know, I don't I don't ever want to just our utilities. Minnesota Power, for example, was 95% coal when we passed the first renewable electricity standard, The 25% renewable electricity standard that passed in 2007, Minnesota power was 95% coal. And in the last resource plan that was approved on a 5 to 0 vote with fresh energy leading the advocacy community at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Minnesota Power is now promising to be 70% wind and solar and hydro and batteries just like five, six years from now. So our utilities are doing a great job. And the argument against the standard is, well, why do you have to pass a law saying they're doing it if they're doing such a great job? And the answer is to set the bar that very high carbon free by 2040 is what is going to drive the speed and scale and the innovation that we need. You know, 80% by 2037 just isn't going to cut it. We have to we have to have the bar high and in law so the utilities can innovate and excel as they are.


Jo Olsen: [00:23:52] Thank you, Michael. And I think you get some serious extra credit for that answer because you didn't know the question was coming. So well done. That was a fabulous answer. And I can't believe you. You knew all those stats off the top of your head, but hey, that's a good job.


Michael Noble: [00:24:05] I just I was texting him to the president of Great River Energy just last week, and I remember the numbers. It was 51% of the people in America already are living in one of these places and 46% of the electric meters, so about half. Fabulous. About half. About half have already done this.


Jo Olsen: [00:24:25] Thank you, Michael. Okay, so moving on from 100%. I know we've already talked a little bit about IIJA or IIJA and the IRA. earlier in this podcast, but getting those required dollars set aside for matching grants is actually like a huge priority for Fresh Energy. And like I mentioned before, I carry over from last year on the Egypt front. So Michael, we already touched on this, but can you just drive home one more time how these matching dollars are so important?


Michael Noble: [00:25:00] Yeah, well, the federal monies coming are in a bunch of different buckets. There's monies you're entitled to that just come because you're a state. There's money you can get if you match it. And the matches are maybe $1 of state appropriation gets $5. My favorite example didn't happen last year is if we put up $13 Million for high speed car charging, we could get, I think 67 or $68 million for high speed car charging. But we get zero if we don't put up 13. So it's just absolutely obvious we have to do that. But the third category, which I tried to allude to is let's look through all the bills and let's let's compete for every opportunity and let's have the deep employee benches at the Economic Development and Commerce and the Public Utilities Commission and the agencies that can help local government compete. Let's have local government be well resourced so it can bring dollars in their community. There there's the money that we absolutely have to get on the table in order to get things that we're entitled to. But there's also money that we should debate. How can we get more than our fair share? And that's what I'm really, really interested in, is how can we get more than our fair share? How can how can Minnesota get back its position that it once had where we were one of the very top states in America on clean energy and climate solutions?


Anna Johnson: [00:26:37] Yeah. And just to add on to that, you know, cities, municipalities, counties, they're they tend to work with pretty narrow budgets and and are very efficiently staffed. Their staff wear a lot of hats and and work really hard and they don't have a ton of extra capacity in time to add on applying for federal funding onto their already full portfolios. So it's all the more reason why we need to be putting up funds for matching dollars is to provide this technical staff assistance to cities, counties, municipalities, other areas that that would really, really benefit from projects, but just don't have the capacity to add this on to their plate. So just really an important opportunity to be able to take advantage of these funds.


Jo Olsen: [00:27:33] Well, and we do often say that communities are on the front lines of the fight against climate change and making sure they're resourced is is just so crucial. So, Anna, I've got another question for you, if you're ready. Another long standing priority for Fresh Energy always is transportation. So we know that transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Minnesota. So, Anna, what are some things that Fresh Energy is thinking about this session that will work to reduce this just gigantic source of emissions for our state?


Anna Johnson: [00:28:08] Yeah, Thanks, Jo. Well, in addition to the NEVI  plan and the matching funds that we've been talking about, there's a lot of opportunity in the transportation space. Electrifying transportation is a crucial strategy for driving down emissions. Like you said, about a quarter of emissions economy wide come from transportation, and they're actually going in the wrong direction. Their emissions from transportation are going up when they need to be going down. Fresh energy is part of the Drive Electric Coalition, which includes industry partners and other stakeholders in that coalition and beyond. We're thinking about multi-pronged strategies for advancing electrification. Fresh Energy is interested in opportunities to explore mode shifting and reducing vehicle miles traveled, as well as things like electric buses and school buses that might include or complement electrification work. You know, electric school buses are such a wonderful technologies. Kids are really, really sensitive to to chemicals that are burned in diesel. And school buses are really a great way to support public health and reduce exposure to to kids. You get a lot of bang for your buck and get to support our young folks in that. And all of these things require adequate investment in transportation expansion and funding. So that is also high on our list this session.


Jo Olsen: [00:29:40] Thanks, Anna. Okay, Michael, this question is for you. So in the past few weeks, fresh energy, if folks haven't heard yet, we launched a new industry department at Fresh Energy. And the goal of that department will be to take on emissions in industry and agriculture. So this program is led by Craig McDonnell, who's new to fresh energy, and he came to us from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency where he was assistant commissioner. So, Michael, what do you see on the horizon this session in the industry space, acknowledging, too, that this is a time of huge opportunity nationally for industrial decarbonization?


Michael Noble: [00:30:23] Yeah, it's it's a very, very exciting time. You know, now that it's clear the direction of decarbonizing our electric power grid and we're have an active debate about zero emissions from electricity, and now that we're embracing this concept of electrify everything we can and we're focused on electrifying transportation, electrifying buildings, a lot of attention in America, a lot of attention in philanthropy, a lot of attention at fresh energy is shifting to the industrial sector. And a lot of people call this the hard to mitigate sector or emissions, hard to reduce. And I really don't like that language because this is the incredible opportunity for innovation sector. And, you know, industrial customers, people who buy from industry are asking for carbon-free steel. And, you know, the United Nations has a program that's aggregating federal governments, national governments, local governments and major global corporations to make pledges to buy carbon-free steel or carbon-free cement or carbon-free aluminum. Some fraction of their supply chain would would would drive this innovation and so there's a race to the top, not a race to the bottom. And so fresh energy now has a program and hopefully soon we'll have two people in the program and grow it from there. But the very, very first thing we're going to work on maybe is some legislative language on by clean that was passed the House of Representatives last year and did not get a hearing in the Minnesota Senate. But it's quite popular among unlikely allies.


Michael Noble: [00:32:07] The large industrial labor unions really liked the idea that Minnesota would start buying clean because that they hear the language they hear is buy local and buy from companies I work at. So why can't we set a standard that in the bonding bill in 2030, the steel we buy will be from Minnesota iron ore that is is fabricated into steel. It's carbon free. Why can't we help jumpstart the industry for carbon free fertilizer? Fertilizer is one of the highest and most obvious uses for hydrogen, and you hear a lot of buzz about the hydrogen economy, but it's a mixed bag of really, really smart and obvious things that we absolutely have to do and really, really dumb things that are ridiculous and we should never do. And fertilizer is the smartest, most obvious opportunity. And we're going to be on the ground floor of hydrogen to fertilizer. And Craig McDonnell, former assistant commissioner of the Pollution Control Agency, is quite close to the governor and advisor to the governor and will bring fabulous contacts that he accrued both working for the the the governor when he was a congressman and working for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture and the Minnesota Department, the Pollution Control Agency. And now he's going to be the industrial carb guru of Minnesota on fresh energy staff. So pretty damn lucky to have this program starting. And we're pretty damn lucky to have Craig McDonald leading it.


Jo Olsen: [00:33:49] And if Craig is listening, no pressure.


Michael Noble: [00:33:53] You know, all eyes on Greg McDonnell. Spotlight's on you, bro.


Jo Olsen: [00:33:59] So finally, my closing question for you both today. I would be remiss if I didn't talk about our amazing team who is going to be showing up at the Capitol this year. So alongside our deep bench of policy experts who regularly get called up to testify on an ad hoc basis, Anna, could you talk a bit about our 2023 public affairs dream team?


Anna Johnson: [00:34:26] Sure. Thanks, Joe. Love that name for us. Well, yes, I'm always happy to talk about my fantastic colleagues. I feel so lucky to work with them. They're all extremely talented. We're headed up by Justin Fay, our public affairs director, and he's he's been working in and around the Capitol. I don't know how many years, but at least. Ten or 12, maybe 14. I don't know. He's he's he's very well respected up there and a great leader on our team. We also work with John Burns, who is our contract lobbyist. We've been working with John Burns since 2000. Michael, was it 2009 nine? John was a Republican House member who was on the conference Committee for the Next Generation Energy Act in 2007. So he's got a really important experience under his belt and just a lovely guy to work with. Also a volunteer firefighter. We have Brynn see us on our team for the first time. She is working to do some like a direct direct action campaigning. So you might hear from her, get a text from her asking you to contact your legislator this legislative session for the first time. That's new capacity that we haven't had before, so we're excited to activate her. We are also hiring for the first time a session only position.


Anna Johnson: [00:36:05] Sally Bower will be joining us and we're really excited to bring her into the fold and have her be an important team member. And then, as always, J. Drake Hamilton is an important member of our public affairs team and a very frequent testifier at the Minnesota legislature. And finally, our Capital pathways. In turn, we host Capital Pathways interns every year since the program began through the Citizens League. It's a wonderful program. We're lucky to be able to participate in it. The program places bipoc students, undergrad students with organizations who have a presence at the Capitol and provide an internship experience for folks who are just interested in the legislative process to get their feet wet and see what it's like and to make connections and see how the process works. So we're always happy to work with those students. We're working with someone named Anjali PD this year and excited to work with them. And yeah, it's going to be a good, busy, fun session and we'll be back in person for the first time since March of 2020. So I'm excited to to walk around the Capitol and and get to meet people face to face.


Michael Noble: [00:37:30] Joe, I wonder if you noticed the the one name that wasn't mentioned. The incredible Anna Johnson is a really, really pivotal person on the public affairs team and she never mentioned herself. 


Jo Olsen: [00:37:47] Here. Here.


Anna Johnson: [00:37:47] Thanks, Michael


Jo Olsen: [00:37:49] And how many years has it been for you? Now.


Anna Johnson: [00:37:52] This will be my fifth session with Fresh Energy, and I have I was a page in the House of Representatives back in 2015 and interned with Senator Dibble in 2011. Oh, boy. What was that? Must have been 2018. And I also should mention, we're so excited. Senator Dibble is the chair of the Transportation Committee in the Senate, and he's extreme. No, sorry, not. Yeah, in the Senate. Yes, sorry. Transportation. He's extremely seasoned, really knows this stuff. Transit expert. And we also have him back on the Energy and Climate Committee in the Senate, too. So we're excited to continue working with him as an ally and a just a really, really knowledgeable legislator.


Michael Noble: [00:38:39] And I also want to say one thing about John Burns, our contract lobbyist. Actually, two things, just in case he's listening and tend to embarrass him as well. Checking my Wayback Machine and my memory banks. It was 2013 that he came on at 2009 and went and asked me, caught me off guard. But 2013 he came on and he was a former member of the House Republican Caucus and he was on Governor Tim Pawlenty staff. And I remember during the 2007 legislative session, which I fondly refer to as the year we ran the table as freshman House member John Burns from Wayzata was chosen by Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher to be the member of the conference committee and negotiate the energy bill with the Senate. So that's a lot of inside baseball. But conference committee is when you have a difference of opinion, what's in the Senate bill? What's in the House bill? You put together a committee of representatives from each side and they hash it out. And of course, it's dominated by the majority party. But you want to oftentimes have representation from the minority party. So John was in the minority, the House Republican and Margaret Anderson Kelleher asked him to be her negotiator with the Senate.


Michael Noble: [00:39:58] And so I got a chance early in my well, it wasn't really my career, but early in John's career I got a chance to brief him on all the different provisions in the House bill that he needed to advocate for with the senators. So he was a very key person in Minnesota history, a Republican leader in the House of Representatives who had direct access to Governor Pawlenty, who signed all those bills into law, proving that these issues are not partisan. Yet the oil industry over the last well, over the last 15 years has absolutely succeeded in making them partisan. That's the problem. It's not that we're not as good as we used to be. It's not that people like John Burns don't exist in the Republican Party. It's that the oil industry has a headlock on politics, and you cannot run for office in America as a Republican and say you're going to solve climate because they will drum you out of office. That is a fact. And that sounds partisan, but I'm basically complimenting the Coke brothers and ExxonMobil for their effective 20 year strategy to take over a political party as the anti climate. We don't do anything on climate or we get in trouble party.


Jo Olsen: [00:41:18] Well, thank you, Michael. Some extra insight there. And for our listeners, I don't know if you noticed, but I sure did. We were talking about Anna and then Anna adeptly changed the subject to beloved Senator Scott Dibble. So, Anna, we love you. Thank you for all that you do. We're so excited to have you leading for us at the Capitol this year. And we are going to talk about you whether you like it or not.


Anna Johnson: [00:41:41] Well, thank you, Jo. Appreciate that.


Jo Olsen: [00:41:43] Well, I think that's a wrap we have talked about a lot today. So thank you, Michael and Anna, for giving our listeners some insight into what's coming up this legislative session and what it's going to look like or could look like for clean energy and climate in Minnesota. Thank you both for being here. I really appreciate it. So for our listeners, I think that I was public. Is anyone going to chime in? All right.


Michael Noble: [00:42:09] So, so awesome. So awesome. Thank you for having us.


Jo Olsen: [00:42:12] Absolutely. Michael, thanks for being here. For our listeners, you can stay up to date on Fresh Energy's work via our blog at Fresh Energy dot org or follow us on social media. We have a new blog post up that because listicles are so popular, I think I called it the top 22 accomplishments of 2022. So that's up on our website. It's on the home page. It's like a quick snapshot of Fresh Energy's year in the rearview mirror of the cool stuff that happened. And then a final reminder that you can support Fresh Energy's work. You can support that top 22 of 2022 and what's coming for 2023 by making a donation today. Visit that website, Fresh dash Energy dot org and click Donate in the upper right corner. Thank you for listening.