Author Patrick Sisson
The climate crisis has come to St. Paul not as fire or flood but as a shiny green beetle: The emerald ash borer, an invasive insect that’s been eating its way northward in North America, is devouring a growing share of the Minnesota capital’s tree management budget. Removing dead trees could cost the city $22 million over the next few years, Mayor Melvin Carter says. The warming planet has also manifested in the siege of potholes that afflicts the city’s roadways, since the freeze-thaw cycle now happens more often, steadily increasing municipal maintenance costs.
To help the city meet its climate action goals and do its part to combat climate change, Carter wants to double-down on bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly street design and public transit. But keeping up with falling tree limbs and buckled streets is straining St. Paul’s ability to fund basic services, especially amid the economic downturn triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. And the federal government has not been very helpful lately.