Believe It Or Not : MN01 Jim Hagedorn proclaims Obama Green Energy program “essential” to quality of life in Southeast Minnesota

Yep, it’s the start of election season when incumbents hope voters forget their previous statements (and votes) and instead just appreciate funding for programs their communities want.

Case in point … remember when Jim Hagedorn referred to green energy as “global warming extremism” … and remember one of his first votes in Congress was to oppose H R 267 funding for transportation programs (it passed in a bipartisan vote) … and remember when he voted against H R 9 Climate Action Now (it passed in a bipartisan vote) … and remember when he voted against H R 535 PFAS ( polyfluoroalkyl substances) Action Act (it passed in a bipartisan vote)… and remember when he voted against H R 1768 Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (it passed in a bipartisan vote) … well, forget all that … ’cause Congressman Hagedorn wants you to know that the City of Rochester has received a grant of $3,156,746 to invest in a low-emissions public transportation project to demonstrate battery-powered bus technology [see press release https://hagedorn.house.gov/media/press-releases/hagedorn-norton-applaud-dot-grant-collaboration-build-grant].

It’s part of the Low or No Emission Grant Program (“Low-No”), which was established in 2015 under the President Obama administration for the purpose of providing “funding for the purchase or lease of zero-emission and low-emission transit buses as well as for the acquisition, construction, or leasing of supporting facilities and equipment.” It was the Obama Administration’s acknowledgement that the transportation sector had become the largest contributor of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, responsible for nearly 30 percent of total emissions across the country (according to Environmental Protection Agency data.) Heavy-duty vehicles, which include passenger buses, garbage trucks and delivery trucks, account for about a quarter of the global warming emissions from vehicles.

A little history here … the “LowNo” program was first funded in FY2016 at $55 million, then to $85 million in FY2018 and the most recent awards amounted to $130 million for forty-one projects in 40 states and the District of Columbia … and there is pending legislation to increasing the program’s authorization to $165 million for fiscal years 2021-2025 to help lower oversubscription. [Note: The Trump Administration has not released the number of projects considered, but past years have indicated an oversubscription problem — in FY2017 there were 128 applications and FY2018 was 151 … so considering that only 41 projects were funded suggests that there is definitely a backlog.]

Yep, let’s ignore all the votes that resulted in a 7% score for Congressman Hagedorn from the League of Conservation (https://scorecard.lcv.org/moc/jim-hagedorn) and the fact that he has not sponsored H.R. 763 Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act of 2019, H.R.2164 Green Bus Act of 2019, H.R. 4269 Climate Stewardship Act of 2019, H.R. 5221 100% Clean Economy Act of 2019 and H.R. 5545 NO EXHAUST Act of 2020, let’s instead praise him for “applauding” an Obama-environmental program (and hope that this wasn’t just an opportunity to mask over his environmental voting record just because the City of Rochester and it’s DFL mayor pushed for funding.)

Of course, voters will be able to tell if this is truly a “new and enlightened Jim Hagedorn” if he sponsors any of these bills … and how he votes on the upcoming FY21 appropriations … if not, First District voters will know that he is just taking a free ride on the coattails of the Rochester Mayor and her team.