A recent report from Nature Communications shows that if nothing is done to reduce emissions and rein in climate change, by 2080 Mankato would be more like Salina, Kansas where summers are more than nine degrees warmer and over 12 percent drier, while winter would be more than 16 degrees warmer and 6.6 percent wetter.

North Mankato Democratic State Senator Nick Frentz has been at the forefront of environmental issued at the capitol this legislative session and he said that’s not the only recent study on climate change in Minnesota. “We saw a study this week that Minnesota might be the worst affected state in the country,” he explained.

Frentz is the chief author of a recently introduced bill that seeks to get all of the state’s energy from clean sources by 2045, and for Minnesota’s electricity providers to be completely carbon free by 2050. He asked, “Do we accept these scientists and what they’re telling us about climate change, not just for Mankato but for the whole state and the country and the world, and if so are we going to something about it now?”

Frentz explained that the legislation includes a timeline for power companies to sunset coal-fired power plants, with benchmarks to meet, “Sort of a waypoint along the way, 2030, 2035, and it does distinguish between Xcel (Energy) and municipal utilities and the regional coops like BENCO.”

The fact that it will cost a lot of money for utilities to make that switch over time is not lost on Frentz, who added, “There are costs now to some of the moves that we’re trying to make; some of the decarbonization. Does society want to pay those now or are we just going to cross our fingers and hope nothing bad happens in the future?”

It’s an issue that will heavily impact future generations and Frentz noted that a visit to his office by a group of young people this week drove that point home. “We had a group of about 12 students from the Mankato area come up here and their sole focus was environment and climate change,” he said.

Frentz added that industry is another component in the climate change picture, that it creates jobs and produces products and services, and the next step is to determine how to include them in the effort.