Priyanka Zylstra, Senior at Minneapolis South High School, delivered the following closing remarks at the Clean Energy & Jobs Earth Day Rally at the Minnesota State Capitol, following Governor Mark Dayton, Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Senator John Marty, Reprentative Melissa Hortman, and Polar Explorer Will Steger. She spoke to crowd of 500 people and drew huge applause.
Priyanka is a volunteer leader in the Sierra Club and Sierra Student Coalition, and youth Steering Committee member for Youth Environmental Activists of Minnesota (YEA! MN), a core program of the Will Steger Foundation. She was instrumental in recruiting 40 Minnesota high school students to participate in Power Shift in Pittsburgh last fall and has continued to support peer engagement in beyond coal organizing and local climate change solutions across the Twin Cities Metro and beyond.
Hey Clean Energy and jobs rally! Can we make some noise?
I’m here to talk to you about why action on climate change and clean energy is not only important for the future, but why it is crucial for our communities right now!!!
We need to take action on environmental justice and equity TODAY. People across Minnesota don’t have time to waste.
I’m honored to be here with you all, but frankly I’m also kind of pissed. I’m pissed that I have to fight for the right for clean water and clean air and for my future.
There is no reason that lakes, rivers and streams should be polluted by mercury. No reason that our air should be polluted, and no reason that people should be suffering the health impacts and the effects of climate change.
We have the will, the resources and the opportunity to be leaders, to innovate on clean energy and to protect our communities, while creating healthy, good paying jobs and improving the quality of our environment.
There are very real threats to building a clean energy economy here in MN. out of state interests are not just threatening our progress on energy and climate but are also perpetuating injustices in our communities, particularly communities of color. This is unacceptable and they need to know that we will not stand for this.
Minnesota is known for its beauty, for its nature, for its kindness and its people. We should also be known for our tenacity and leadership on issues of importance. Working for 50% clean energy by 2030 is something that can unite us, that will create jobs and that can give us a brighter future and a better NOW.
Thanks y’all for coming today. I know there are a lot of young people that are excited to be here with you all and are eager to sing you a song about our vision for a clean energy future. Can those folks, participating in the song please make their way to the stage.