Changes Related To Energy And Climate
Concerns about energy security, fuel prices, and climate change have led to new national and state standards for energy efficiency and increased interest in renewable energy sources. Climate change is predicted to have direct impacts on Minnesota's forests, grasslands, wetlands, lakes, and streams. Climate change can also intensify the negative effects of other factors influencing natural resources, such as the frequency and intensity of wildfires, the spread of invasive species, and the impact of fish and wildlife diseases.
U.S. Crude Oil Production and Imports
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U.S. oil production continues to decline and imports grow. Even if the U.S. were to open all sensitive lands to oil production, oil production would continue to decline.
Fuel Price Fluctuations
Oil prices fluctuated between $27 and $147 per barrel between 2000 and 2008. Natural gas prices fluctuated between $2 and $7.50 per million BTU. Minnesotans have felt this directly at the gas pump and in their energy bills, as has DNR. DNR spent 20% more on fleet fuel costs in FY 2008 than in FY 2007. Energy costs have declined since then, but future price spikes will cut into funds available for critical land and water management.
In Minnesota, average annual temperature has risen slightly over 1°F in the south to a little over 2°F in much of the north since the early 1980s. Warmer temperatures will directly affect growing conditions, vegetation patterns, lake water levels, and wildlife populations. Climate change may also result in more extreme events such as severe windstorms, heavy rains, extended droughts, and wildfires.
Incentives and Mandates for Addressing Climate Change and Energy Issues
Projected Reductions in CO2 Emissions in Minnesota's Electric Sector
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State and federal policies support renewable energy development through incentives and mandates to enhance energy price stability and security and reduce the addition of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere. For example, in 2007 Minnesota passed legislation requiring the state to:
- generate 25 percent of power from utilities using renewable sources by 2025
- Reduce statewide greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 base levels by 15 percent by 2015 and 80 percent by 2050.
In 2008 the governor's Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group developed a comprehensive mitigation plan to meet these goals to reduce carbon emissions. The group's recommendations highlighted the role of forest and peatlands in mitigating the effects of climate change by sequestering carbon. Recommendations included establishing substantial acres of new forest land along with enhanced forest management and restoration of peatlands.