Kyoto here in Minnesota

Minnesota is witnessing the possibilities of environmentally friendly energy policy.

Last week, the Kyoto Protocol finally went into effect after a prolonged struggle between industrialized nations and developing nations. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, President George W. Bush decided not to sign the treaty.

The treaty is largely symbolic because the United States, the world’s leading producer of greenhouse gases, is not participating. The treaty’s focus to combat climate change by means of reducing air pollution from greenhouse gases is still a noble and necessary one. The United States’ nonparticipation in the Kyoto Protocol is particularly disheartening for Minnesota, which in many ways is ahead of the curb for emissions standards and would stand to benefit economically.

Minneapolis has already met the Kyoto Protocol standard for greenhouse gas production. Other cities looking to meet the standard would see Minneapolis as the role model for its emphasis on public transportation and energy-efficient buildings. The city’s decision to transform the Riverside Coal Plant to a natural gas plant also provides an excellent example to other cities.

Often unmentioned in Minnesota’s efforts for combating greenhouse emissions are sustainable forestry and smart farming methods that reduce carbon-emissions.

Minnesota’s renewable-energy sector would in many ways compete to be a national producer and distributor. The wind farms, with their hundreds of giant, clean, energy-producing turbines, combined with Minnesota’s growing ethanol and biodiesel industries provide a fertile base for expansion. The economic benefits to Minnesota, if the Kyoto Protocol had been implemented in the United States, have been regrettably delayed.

Minnesota is positioning itself as one of the leaders in the nation for meeting the standards of the protocol. The major reason cited for not signing the protocol was its economic impact on the U.S. economy. Not only is this belief shortsighted, but it does not take into account the grand innovative possibilities of environmentally friendly energy policy.