Will Steger and Student Leaders meet with Governor Dayton in defense of Next Generation Energy Act

The Sierra Club North Star Chapter and several environmental student groups from colleges across the Twin Cities approached the Will Steger Foundation to help secure a meeting with Governor Dayton in defense of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act. Will Steger and Abby Fenton, Youth Programs Director for WSF, joined the student delegation for a meeting with the Governor on short notice to voice their concerns and ask for his support. Mickey Weitekamp, student representative from EcoWatch at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, was present at the meeting and posted this report.



MN students, Will Steger, and WSF staff Abby Fenton pose for a photo with Governor Dayton

MN students, Will Steger, and WSF staff Abby Fenton pose for a photo with Governor Dayton

Student environmental leaders from across the Twin Cities teamed up with arctic explorer and climate change educator Will Steger on Friday, March 25, to encourage Minnesota governor Mark Dayton to support a clean energy future for Minnesota. Groups represented at the meeting included EcoWatch, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), YEA! Minnesota, The Will Steger Foundation, Campus Beyond Coal, and the Southeast Como Improvement Association.

Leaders urged the governor to veto Republican legislators’ multiple attempts to repeal key components of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act. Over the hour-long meeting with governor Dayton and his staff, students engaged in a productive discussion about the carbon, health, and economic benefits associated with the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007.


Minnesota has made great progress towards reducing harmful carbon pollution that leads to global climate change. A repeal of any of the key provisions of the Next Generation Energy Act would be a staggering setback to reaching the state’s climate goals.


Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes. However, most of these lakes now have advisories on fish consumption because of mercury pollution associated with coal-fired energy. In addition, emissions of sulfates, nitrates, and particulate matter have adverse effects on human health.

Economic Development

Minnesota is currently one of the largest importers of energy per capita in the country. At the same time, our state has tremendous renewable energy resources, including wind, biomass, solar, and geothermal. Because they are local in scale, these options create sustainable jobs within the state. Benefits are multiplied as these wages are spent within local communities.

What can you do?

Student leaders outside the MN State Capitol

Student leaders outside the MN State Capitol

The Next Generation Energy Act: More Information:

Passed with broad bipartisan support and signed by Republican governor Tim Pawlenty, the act intended to decrease the state’s carbon emissions associated with energy by:

  • Tripling investment in home and business energy efficiency measures
  • Mandating that 25% of Minnesota’s energy be produced from renewable sources by 2025
  • Setting aggressive goals for reduction of carbon emissions, including a requirement that new coal-fired plants offset all of their carbon emissions

Current attempts to weaken the act include legislation that would repeal the act entirely, along with legislation that would do away with the carbon-offset mandate for coal power. These attempts are especially concerning because key proponents of the act when it passed are now leading the charge to repeal it. For more information, you can visit the legislature’s page about the act.

EcoWatch is a non-partisan student group at the University of Minnesota that expands the environmental dialogue by organizing outreach events on campus, assisting with local, state, and national environmental campaigns, and participating in student lobbying in support of clean energy and environment legislation in Minnesota and beyond.


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