Clean Power Plan: Not just an environmental but also a social-equity issue

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“The good fight: Defend the Clean Power Plan” (editorial, Nov. 9) shared state Attorney General Lori Swanson’s active support for the Clean Power Plan and highlighted pushback from Republican legislators and several states filing lawsuits to block the plan. Look back in history and find that action for powerful, lasting social and environmental change comes with great resistance, pushback and challenge.

I want to further challenge our state’s implementation of the Clean Power Plan. It’s clear we must transition away from coal power plants. What’s not clear is if this transition will be one that is just, equitable and lasting. It’s not enough to take action motivated by what is environmentally being impacted. Minnesota’s narrative and implementation of the Clean Power Plan must center on who is already bearing the burden of coal power plants. This means lifting up the stories and solutions of communities of color and low-income communities.

The NAACP’s Climate Justice Initiative found that 68 percent of African-Americans live within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. This transition requires us to reshape a narrative around action on climate. We must reinvest in local people and communities who are on the front lines of impact and hold the lasting solutions to a new-energy “green” economy.

Nicole Ektnitphong, Minneapolis

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