Measuring progress. Inspiring action.


Goal: A clean and healthy environment that contributes to our state's well-being now and into the future.

A long-running ad campaign dubbed Minnesota "the land of sky blue waters," hinting at our tradition of caring for the environment: Forward thinking in environmental preservation, an array of natural spaces, laws keeping our air clean, innovation in "green" practices, and people who enjoy the outdoors all year long. But are we doing as well as we could be? As the world begins to clean up its act, are we still setting the bar, or lowering it?

What's happening

  • The Next Generation Energy Act established a greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 15 percent below 2005 emissions by 2012. In 2010, greenhouse gas emissions had been reduced by 4 percent, which means the state will have to accelerate this positive trend to meet mandated targets for 2025, and beyond.
  • Residents of Duluth, Fargo-Moorhead, La Crosse, Rochester, and St. Cloud enjoy the best air quality of metros in the state, while residents of the Twin Cities metro typically have the fewest "good" Air Quality Index days.
  • Air quality has been on the decline in the Twin Cities metro area since 2013. Back then, 64% of days in the metro were rated as having "good" air quality, compared to 59% in 2018.
  • Of the 20 Minnesota counties that monitored air quality at least half the year in 2019, Cook County topped the list for share of days with "good" air quality. Carlton and Mille Lacs followed close behind. At the other end of the ranking list, Ramsey and Hennepin posted the smallest shares of "good" days.

Making connections

There is no question that transportation has a major effect on the environment. Likewise, how our business sectors work to the good or detriment of the environment has an effect on the economy and workforce. Poor air and water quality negatively impact the health of residents in the region, which brings down our quality of life.