On May 7th, 2015, myself and six other youth leaders from around the state met with Molly Pederson, senior policy advisor to Governor Mark Dayton. We went to lobby in opposition of the House energy omnibus bill, which would cut many of the clean energy advancements that have been made in Minnesota and make our state a national leader in renewable energy. Before the meeting we met at the Veterans’ Building to plan our agenda and the main points we wanted to cover. It was great to see some of the familiar faces that I recognized from different events over the past year, from the People’s Climate March to Lobby Day. I’ve been able to take part in so many cool events as part of my internship at YEA! MN this past year. It’s been great meeting so many amazing people from around the state, representing several different organizations who are members of the Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign, including the Sierra Club, MPIRG, and MN350. Meetings like this at the Capitol are always a great opportunity to reconnect and be reminded of how many amazing young people across the state are working hard to push for clean energy in Minnesota.
The meeting with Ms. Pederson was far easier than we had expected. I was a little nervous to say my piece before we went in, but that immediately went away when we got in the room with her. She seemed like someone’s really nice mom, like the kind that invites you in and offers you a snack even though you’ve never even met before. Our goal going into the meeting was to get a commitment from the Governor’s office that they would not support any energy bill that made its way to his desk with any clean energy rollbacks. We also delivered over 5,000 postcards that the Clean Energy and Jobs Campaign had collected from all over Minnesota in support of increasing the Renewable Energy Standard to 40% by 2030. There were so many postcards that the bottom of the box started to break and we had to take turns carrying it into the building because it was so heavy!
We didn’t even end up having to ask the question about the Governor vetoing the bill; Molly came out and told us straight away that the Governor would veto the bill, no questions asked. It was a huge relief to hear those words directly from his camp, and the rest of the meeting breezed by because that weight had been taken off our shoulders. Molly was not only very friendly, she was also very knowledgeable about all of the different environmental issues all over Minnesota that were brought up during the rest of the meeting. It was very comforting meeting with a person in government who was 100% on our side and supported all of the issues that are so important to us. We all left the building happy and uplifted, knowing that the Governor is on our side and we will not be seeing any clean energy rollbacks in Minnesota.
Now that we are comfortable knowing that we won’t see any bad energy legislation in Minnesota this year, we are continuing our fight for the 40% by 2030 renewable energy standard that has been the goal of the Clean Energy and Jobs campaign all along. Although the current Republican majority House means it will be difficult for that bill to pass this year, we will continue to fight in support of it for the rest of this session and into the future as well. Most importantly, our meeting with Molly Pederson was a reminder of the power that we have as youth when we band together. Climate change is the most important issue to me as a young person, and I know that myself and my peers will continue fighting hard for the things we care about far into the future.