Minnesota foundation turns climate focus back to Midwest

A Minneapolis-based family foundation that has pledged $100 million to fight climate change worldwide announced today that it will focus its efforts closer to home.

The McKnight Foundation’s new Midwest Climate and Energy program will launch with $25 million in grants — $5 million to RE-AMP, the network of nonprofits that also publishes Midwest Energy News, and $20 million to the Energy Foundation.

“Over the past five years, McKnight has invested over $60 million globally which has yielded major advances in carbon reduction and helped draw other funding into key areas around the world,” said McKnight president Kate Wolford in a news release. “Now building on the Foundation’s history as a place-based funder, we will concentrate attention and funding in the Midwest.”

McKnight cited the Midwest, with growing renewable energy sources, ongoing reliance on coal and strong industrial base, as having “enormous potential in reducing carbon pollution.”

“America’s Midwest contributes 22 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than the national average,” said board chair Ted Staryk in a statement. “That hard truth also means we’re uniquely well-positioned to turn the dial the other direction.”

McKnight is a longtime funder of RE-AMP and is one of 14 foundations that are member organizations. The San Francisco-based Energy Foundation, also a RE-AMP member, provides a portion of the funding that supports Midwest Energy News‘ original journalism.

In a statement, Energy Foundation president Eric Heitz said the funding “builds on the successes of our 20-year partnership with McKnight.

“We agree the Midwest should lead the nation in advancing clean energy markets — and
at the same time reap the economic, health, and environmental benefits that come from this work.”

6 thoughts on “Minnesota foundation turns climate focus back to Midwest

  1. What precisely has RE-AMP has done to REDUCE CO2 emissions? Increasing wind generation has no impact on reducing coal generation because it doesn’t “replace,” it adds generation to an existing surplus of electricity. Promotion of coal gasification and biomass does not reduce CO2 as both generation CO2 (carbon capture and storage is not feasible and does not exist). Promotion of transmission does not reduce CO2 because transmission build-out facilitates market sales of coal generation. Promotion of Renewable Energy Standards (RES) does nothing to reduce CO2 because there is no requirement of reduction of CO2 in any RES. Let’s take a close look at the grants and grant reports and identify what CO2 reductions are happening.

  2. It’s not about CO2 reduction to make an environmental impact, Carol Overland. This is nothing more than a power play, which is why there are 0 environmental studies. The report citizens interested in true environmental protection are directed to is the 2006 study on economics and transmission. The politicians and lobbyists for the fake green movement think they can get the money and force the transmission lines. They had no concerns beyond that.

  3. Thanks for your question, Carol. RE-AMP is a multi-faceted network, and it works across the spectrum to ramp up clean energy, energy efficiency and transportation alternatives, while working to shut down polluting coal plants and tighten standards on new and existing coal plants. CO2 reductions are made in many sectors, not only the renewables sector. That allows true carbon reductions to be achieved economy-wide through policy and implementation both.

  4. US CO2 emissions are down because low NG prices are facilitating the switch to gas from coal. Also more fuel efficient vehicles are reducing oil emissions. Wind, solar, and biofuels are of little use as Carol notes in her excellent post.

  5. Actually, that’s not entirely true.

    Rolf is correct that the shift from coal to natural gas is responsible for most of U.S. CO2 emission reductions. But renewable energy still has an impact.

    A recent Argonne National Laboratory study found that wind energy does indeed reduce the carbon intensity of the grid, but not in a linear way. And that’s primarily because we’re integrating wind into a grid it wasn’t designed for.

    Solar has the potential to have an even greater impact, as it tends to generate at times of high demand, reducing the need to fire up costly peaker units (yes, gang, the existing generation fleet also requires backup).

    The carbon impact of biofuels is a little more controversial, though, as this recent story illustrates.