"Neanderthal" North Dakota Has Better Air Quality Than Minnesota


Over the weekend Governor Mark Dayton took a shot at North Dakota’s political leadership, calling our state’s approach to climate change policy “neanderthal.”

“These other states like North Dakota … just have their heads in the sand and want to profit and then pollute our air accordingly,” Dayton said during an interview with Minnesota Public Radio while praising his state for meeting climate goals.

The problem for Dayton, as I point out over at Watchdog today, is that North Dakota actually has a better track record on clean air than Minnesota does:

Dayton’s comments aren’t terribly surprising. The progressive view of what was once called global warming — now called “climate change,” given the globe’s stubborn refusal to warm all that much — has become more an ideology, perhaps even a theology, than a rational and scientific point of view. What matters more to people like Dayton than facts or reason is fealty to the climate change faith.

Fossil fuels are evil. The apocalypse is coming. Only big government can save us.

From that point of view, yes, North Dakota is home to climate change heretics. Or “Neanderthals,” to use Dayton’s word.

Unfortunately for Dayton, reality isn’t kind to his position.

For one thing, North Dakota has better air than Minnesota. The 2015 State of the Air report from the American Lung Association gave North Dakota perfect grades for air quality. The state got perfect grades in 2013 and 2014, too.

Not good grades. Not great grades. Perfect grades.

As I note at the link, North Dakota’s air quality measures were taken in some of the most industrially active areas of the state including two counties that are home to most of North Dakota’s coal-fired electricity generation and four counties that are among the most active for oil and natural gas activity.

Minnesota’s air quality grades, meanwhile, are decidedly not perfect:

Minnesota didn’t match North Dakota’s perfect score. Of the 14 counties measured in that state, four got only B grades, and one county got a C.

Those aren’t perfect; they’re not even that great. Maybe Minnesota could be doing better — like the ‘Neanderthals’ in North Dakota.

Also, it’s worth noting that Minnesota can be pretty hypocritical when it comes to their disdain for coal-fired electricity:

Minnesota’s position on emissions policy is, at times, hypocritical. For instance, a lawsuit North Dakota filed (and won) against Minnesota over prohibiting the latter from importing coal-fired electricity from the former.

Supposedly, the blatantly unconstitutional law in question was about saving the environment, but North Dakota’s contends it didn’t apply to coal-fired electricity originating within Minnesota.

Minnesota was essentially arguing that North Dakota’s exported coal power is bad for the environment but, somehow, Minnesota’s domestic coal power isn’t.

Dayton is vowing to continue his state’s quixotic legal fight to uphold that law, as is befitting a true believer in the climate change faith. But one has to wonder whether the motivation is really about the environment or just rank economic protectionism.

My guess is the latter.