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Tuesday Group: Citizens' Climate Lobby

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

This past Tuesday, we had 5 members of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby come to educate us on their mission for bipartisan solutions to climate change. We welcomed Charlie Orsak, who taught us about the full mission of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. They are looking for lower carbon emissions, sustainable economic development, and most importantly, they are focused on protecting the way of life in Northern Minnesota. Around the Iron Range they are focused on greening steel, which is producing steel without the use of fossil fuels, to reduce Minnesota’s carbon footprint. For the greening steel industry to grow, there needs to be innovations in existing production, supply and transmission of renewable energy, storage of renewable energy, and mitigating sulfates.

Russ Mattson joined us to explain what examples of storage for renewable energy would look like, and how the storage systems would house energy generated from many renewable sources, such as solar, wind, and water. Mike Overrend went into detail about iron air batteries and the unique economic opportunities that come with the implementation. Minnesota is set to be using carbon-free energy by 2040, and currently sixty percent of our electricity comes from the use of fossil fuels. The use of fossil fuels creates twenty-five percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, and causes one in five deaths worldwide due to emission-created health issues.

Jeff Hanson talked about sulfate remediation systems and the necessity for these mechanisms in mining-adjacent towns. Sulfate, when underwater and not exposed to oxygen, breaks down into mercury, nitrogen, and phosphorus. The worst of this is mercury; Methyl mercury then gets into the water we drink, the fish we catch, and into our environment. Building sulfate remediation bioreactors would be able to create chemical reactions to neutralize methyl mercury. Eighty percent of cities get some form of water from mine pit lakes! Eric Enberg introduced the beginnings of some very important breakthroughs and ideas within direct reduced iron being sold. Direct reduced iron is iron produced without the use of fossil fuels.

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