Impassioned Youth Seek Clean Air

YEA! MnWill Steger Foundation is actively engaging Minnesota youth in critical Clean Air Act defense. High school students representing Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN), a joint program of the WSF and the Alliance for Sustainability, joined a coalition of MN youth from across the state, to address US Senator Klobuchar on the issue. Read a reflection on the meeting from youth organizers at the MN Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG).

What is clear and everywhere you go? Need another hint? Its molecular mass is 28.97 grams. The answer is Clean Air! Recently, Minnesota youth representing eight different student organizations met together to speak with Greg Bohrer, Energy and Environmental Legislative Aide to US Senator Amy Klobuchar, regarding our Senator’s action to preserve the integrity of the Clean Air Act. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) Challenge has been introduced into Congress, and would formally retract the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate cross-state pollution. People who enjoy clean air are worried.

With such varied youth organizations represented, we recognized many different implications the CRA Challenge would have. Cole Norgaarden and I, members of Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN) highlighted that today’s youth are the “green generation”, and as 22% of potential voters in the next election, we want our Senator to stand up for the environment and Minnesotans. The other collegiate youth identified public health, the value of science, the green economy and the importance of regulating greenhouse gases as reasons to support the Clean Air Act. As a group, we asked if Senator Klobuchar would commit to defending Clean Air Act safeguards from future attacks in Congress and if she would help stop attacks on Clean Air by voting against the CRA Challenge resolution on the Cross State Air Pollution Rule.

The word “vague” simplifies the outcome of the meeting. A definitive answer was never given; Bohrer portrayed the Senator’s agenda as one that could support the Clean Air Act, but would not actively work to voice opposition to the CRA Challenge. As youth activists, passion and initiative are threaded throughout our lives, making it difficult to have a leader who is less impassioned than we are. This meeting has reminded me that youth and adults alike need to continue standing up against environmental degradation. Voicing our opinions is necessary to see the action we would like, and I promise, I’ll be doing a lot of voicing in the future.

Leah Norman, MN High School Senior, YEA! MN Steering Committee Member

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