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Otter Tail residents gather at climate change forum

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Beth Monke, representing Citizens Climate Lobby, addressed attendees at the Climate Change Community Forum on Oct. 24 in Fergus Falls. (Photo by Tom Hintgen, Otter Tail County Correspondent)

FERGUS FALLS -- Residents, commissioners, mayors and other elected representatives from throughout Otter Tail County attended an evening program, “Adapting for a changing climate,” Oct. 24 in the lower level of First Lutheran Church, Fergus Falls.

The event was part of a Climate Change Community Forum. Those in attendance came to learn more about opportunities for building resilience in the face of climate change.

The group was nearly unanimous in support of promoting the development and use of alternate renewable and clean energy sources.

“We have seen bipartisan support at the Minnesota State Legislature regarding meaningful progress on climate solutions,” said Beth Monke, representing Citizens Climate Lobby. “We’re laying the groundwork for significant steps in future years.”

Monke praised Catholic bishops who see global climate change as a real problem and who support provisions that offer some relief for workers displaced because of climate change policies.

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“The bishops also support the development and use of alternate renewable and clean-energy resources,” Monke said.

The guest speaker was Troy Goodnough, sustainability coordinator at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

Goodnough credits technological advances and public policies supporting clean energy with helping the clean energy economy grow in west central Minnesota.

“This benefits the overall economy in our region,” Goodnough said.

Also discussed at the Oct. 24 meeting in Fergus Falls was the proposed Congressional Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.

This bill proposes a fee on carbon at the point of extraction to encourage market-driven innovation of clean energy technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Fees would be recycled to citizens in monthly dividends.

The next Climate Change Community Forum is scheduled for April 2 at a location to be announced. The guest speaker will be Mark Seeley, state climatologist emeritus at the University of Minnesota.

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