Samantha L. Pree-Stinson
Green Party Endorsed Candidate
Minneapolis City Council Ward 3
White paper: Energy, Environment and Transportation
Minneapolis and St. Paul are two of the hardest hit cities due to climate change. Currently, renewable energy fuels only about 21% of MN electricity. We are getting much dryer and over the last 50 years we have seen a 40% increase in extreme storms. We need green spaces and not more concrete to absorb the heat. The good news is that we have options. Options that allow us to make better use of our space in the city, increase our self-sustainability, and make for a SMART future thinking city for generations of Minneapolitans to come.
Awareness is one thing, but action is required. Data shows the root causes which highlight the need for necessary energy and environmental improvements. Our current city council, in conjunction with the City of St. Paul and city business leaders, wrote a SMART city grant proposal. Despite the fact that the grant was denied, the city should move ahead with the proposal and look for clean ways to make it happen. Our current city plan and study can be read here.
Urban density can create greener living and utilize our city space most efficiently. I am fully committed to our energy goals in Minneapolis and would look for ways to expedite our goals ahead of schedule/projection such as:
•Continue to add LRT access especially in lower income neighborhoods and supplement with autonomous micro transit options. Explore 3rd generation roadway systems and what that would look like for Minneapolis.
•Fully invest in protected bike lanes with green streets (permeable surfaces) for water retention
•Solar bikeway system pilot
•Green rooftops and Urban agriculture
•Carbon sequestration in soil and increasing composting efforts across the city
•Private renewable power generation
• Supporting the efforts of Community Power in part by continuing to organically divest from energy corporations and build the infrastructure for a self-sustaining municipal led utility model
Continue to add LRT access especially in lower income neighborhoods and supplement with autonomous micro transit options. Explore 3rd generation roadway systems and what that would look like for Minneapolis.
Even with the addition of the blue and green line and the additions to be made to North Minneapolis, we still have access issues to buses in the city for short trips. Bus lines that go from North Minneapolis into NE either do not run on Sunday, have short hours, or frequency issues. It can take up to 3 buses just to get into NE from over North.
This is unacceptable.
No one should have to get up 3 hours earlier than needed or have to walk 1-2 miles once they get off the bus. A micro transit option that is autonomous can bridge the gap. There are several options but in essence a smart app can interface and drop you up or pick you up and drop you at your home or at the bus shelter.
Park and ride lots are a waste of space in the city and this option can help to reduce their need, increase public transit use, and reduce emissions. 3rd generation roadways are ones that would support automation, fully automate communication, are supported entirely by LED, reduce/eliminate traffic congestion, and allows for greater access from non-urban communities with reduced energy budgets for the city overall.
We must also fully invest in protected bike lanes with green streets (permeable surfaces with sediment controls) for water retention and solar bikeway system pilot.
Protected bike lanes are essential to the safety of our cyclists and to reduce the cost of winter maintenance to the bike lanes. Protected bike lanes are also a great way to ensure pedestrian safety as well. They shorten crossing distances, make it easier to detect which direction cars are coming from, dedicate signal phases to remove turning conflicts, and reduce traffic weaving.
This will help us to achieve a Zero Emissions reality. This information has been confirmed by many studies and can be found in greater detail by visiting people for bikes and is supported by the cycling community to include the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.
We should also review study data regarding the advantages of 2 way traffic in the city vs, one way. Two way streets increase visibility. One way streets make it hard for pedestrians and cyclists alike. They make it hard for bus riders to determine where to stand for their return trip. Two way streets often have slower speeds as well. If we want Minneapolis to progress and not just maintain its bike friendly status and to increase non-car transportation, we have to build the infrastructure to support it.
Solar pathways are still in pilot phases around the globe but the Dutch are currently in their 2nd phase and have figured out how to have a robust pathway that holds up to weather and in the 1st year created enough energy to power 1 home for a year. I would love to see a similar pilot that could potentially power the Grain Belt beer sign. Green streets would add to this initiative by:
•Provide source control of storm water to limit the transport of pollutants to storm water conveyance and collection systems,
•Restore predevelopment hydrology to the extent possible,
•Create roadways that help protect the environment and local water quality,
•Mitigate or prevent localized flooding,
•Encourage pedestrian and/or bicycle access,
•Improve the aesthetics of a community and,
•Increases a community’s livability.
Green rooftops and Urban agriculture, carbon sequestration in soil
Green or living roofs directly help to reduce the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide and greatly contribute to greater air quality and reduced heavy metals and other harmful elements that in abundance can cause health issues such as asthma.
The estimated cost is $15-$20 a sq. foot and can be implemented intensive, semi-intensive, or extensively. Depending on the area and the building type, a combination can be used. MCAD has one that was a final project of one of their alumni that they decided to keep. A green roof makes for a healthy city and build community one seed at a time.
Rooftop beekeeping is now legal thanks to the work of our city council and is also contributing to the overall environmental health of the city.
Carbon in degrading soil can be corrected by restoration projects. The various health issues caused by Northern Metals need to be addressed. A settlement has been reached but now the real work begins through this restoration. We need to curb emissions and realize the vital role that soil carbon plays to our environment. It offsets fossil fuels and will allow us to have healthy soil for our urban gardens and environment. Soil carbon is a renewable resource. We can benefit from increasing composting initiatives to the neighborhoods. Composting is a natural soil conditioner. Composting material that sits in a landfill is potentially 25% more harmful than carbon dioxide emissions. We have receptacles downtown but not any in our neighborhoods outside of restaurants/bars or on our school grounds. Composting improves structure of soil and water for nutrient retaining properties, allows for deeper plant root systems, and greatly reduces the need for harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilizer usage.
Supporting the efforts of Community Power (listed below) in part by continuing to divest from energy corporations and build the infrastructure for a self-sustaining municipal led utility model.
Not only do I agree that taking these steps is ecologically wise and environmentally responsible, it allows Minneapolis to be self-sustaining and build a stronger community for all of our residents.
These options should be available for all residents and not just those who can afford it. Credit checks and upfront costs are huge barriers for the majority of people in our ward who are working class people.
Public financing options and potentially moving to a municipal led bank can remove these barriers and are part of my affordable Minneapolis model. I also would like to see private renewable power generation at the user level discussed. This would allow for us to organically start to divest from traditional energy sources. The economics involved in this would depend upon (1) the market price or value of renewable electricity; (2) the costs of renewables relative to those of other energy resources; and (3), importantly, policies to promote renewables and environmental goals that raise costs of using fossil fuels and/or subsidize costs of renewables.
A strong collaborative community led effort will make gains where we have experienced shortages and stagnation in these efforts in the past. Minneapolis needs to be a city of options and we should be supporting growing our self-sustaining infrastructure. I support the following efforts to bring true carbon neutrality and sustainability to Minneapolis:
- Rental Energy Efficiency
Residential Energy Efficiency, I would also suggest updating the building code to include insulations standards
- LED Streetlights
- Affordable Community Solar
- On-Bill Financing
- Buying Rural Renewable Energy
- Commercial Building Energy Challenge
- Incentives for Green New Buildings
- Residential Energy Benchmarking
- Coordinated Community Engagement
You can hear the Ward 3 Minneapolis Council candidates discuss their energy policy and climate action plans Thursday March 23rd at the Ward3 Candidate Forum on climate resilience, clean energy access hosted by Community Power!