DFL gubernatorial hopefuls debate on environment, energy

by K.C. Howard

The second gubernatorial debate of the election season took place on University soil again Tuesday as Democratic candidates lined up to discuss environmental issues.

The debate – which featured DFL State Auditor Judi Dutcher; Sen. Becky Lourey, DFL-Kerrick; Sen. Roger Moe, DFL-Erskine; and Minneapolis resident Ole Savior – was the first of three partisan debates sponsored by the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs and the Minnesota League of Conservation Voters.

“Tonight’s debate is a really hot one in terms of the endorsement process,” said Lisa Doerr, the league’s executive director.

Doerr said the state’s major labor and education caucuses have endorsed Moe and Dutcher, respectively, but she said the environmentalists’ vote is up for grabs, making these debates essential.

Approximately 150 audience members gathered in the Cowles Auditorium and asked the candidates personal questions ranging from DFL members’ attraction to the Green Party to all-terrain vehicle policies.

Most of the candidates said the DFL needs to expand and enact more environmental laws to keep conservationists from straying from the party, but Dutcher summed up the consensus when she said, “It’s important to look at who can really get elected.”

All candidates except Savior have said they will only run if endorsed at the state DFL convention May 5.

The candidates agreed on nearly all the environmental policies before them, supporting tax incentives to bolster renewable energy use and Minnesota’s energy industry of biodiesel, ethanol and wind energy.

“We are the Saudi Arabia of wind,” Dutcher said. Her plan consists of building more energy-efficient buildings and recycling everything from carpet to computers.

Moe said when he gets elected he will set a goal to increase Minnesota’s use of homegrown energy in the next decade to a percentage decided by constituents.

“We’ve got ethanol, we’ve got biodiesel, we’ve got solar,” Lourey said.

She said she sees great jobs in the future of Minnesota’s renewable energy sources and would not consider any energy source that contributes to acid rain and ozone depletion.

Savior said he questions the safety of Minnesota’s existing coal-fire plants and would not support importing energy from any other place but Minnesota.

“The main thing is keeping the money in the state,” he said.

The questions and candidates’ responses are posted online at www.mnlcv.org.

Republican and Green Party gubernatorial candidates will also debate environmental issues at Cowles Auditorium at 7 p.m. on April 29 and May 8, respectively.

K.C. Howard welcomes comments at [email protected]