The Hennepin County Board approved the latest version of an expansive climate action plan Tuesday, including a new director's position to implement the county effort.
The plan, which was first suggested by board Chairwoman Marion Greene and Commissioner Debbie Goettel more than two years ago, contains more than 200 strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the county. The public, community organizations, advocacy groups and representatives from state and local agencies have had several months to suggest ideas or make comments about the plan.
The board will consider more public input and take a final vote May 5.
"The accelerating impacts of climate change represent a clear and present danger to Minnesota's future." said Commissioner Chris LaTondresse.
Some of the key changes made to the plan, which are based on the feedback from the public and commissioners, include:
• Set a more ambitious overall goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 and define stretch goals in a number of key metrics.
• Expand on the strategies for protecting natural resources, using green infrastructure, planting and maintaining trees, and increasing carbon sequestration
• Add strategies to reduce vehicle miles traveled, prioritize transit, walking and biking, get to carbon-free electricity, and achieve zero-waste goals faster.
Other initiatives in the 59-page report address racial inequities, green jobs, climate resilience, protecting building sites, roads, infrastructure, and natural resources and green infrastructure.
In other board action, commissioners continued to debate a $24 million tab from the Metropolitan Council for annual operating costs for the Blue and Green light rail lines and Northstar Commuter Rail. Several commissioners said they want a greater role in operational issues and questioned why passenger reduction in the last year didn't result in lower expenses.
The board also wants to work with the council in decisions regarding how the rail lines service the homeless, and policing and safety strategies. Payment of the operating costs has been tabled for several weeks.
"How are we meeting the interconnection of housing, transit and riding safety? They aren't independent of each other," said Commissioner Irene Fernando. "I'm hopeful we can bring the strengths of our organizations together on behalf of the residents."
David Chanen • 612-673-446