Prioritize climate research today

by Daily Editorial Board

The Legislative Citizen Council on Minnesota Resources recently recommended several research projects at the University of Minnesota. Among them was an initiative to develop inexpensive solar energy, an outreach program to educate people about alternatives to toxic lead ammunition and a project to create high-resolution climate change projections for use by local governments.
Before these projects receive funding through state lottery money, the Legislature must approve them. On Thursday, however, a House panel rejected the proposed funding on the basis that these projects — particularly the climate change projections — lacked merit. 
House Republicans opposed funding these projects despite the fact that University climatologists testified about the urgency of addressing climate change and the need for local governments to develop solutions to our planet’s changing environment. House Democrats also oppose the funding rejection.
It is absurd and irresponsible for our state Legislature to halt funds for climate change research, especially given the fact that these particular University projects had the capacity to influence Minnesota communities in ways beyond merely furthering academic knowledge. 
By depriving the University of funds for these research projects, legislators are also depriving the state of the benefits that would result from better systems of environmental planning.
Some of these projects could receive funds in a later conference committee session, and we urge legislators to reconsider their importance during future votes. Moreover, in the upcoming elections, we urge the state’s voters to elect candidates who will prioritize environmental research.