YEA! MN student Kumar Flower Kay explains to Governor Dayton’s representative why he cares about addressing climate change.YEA! MN youth join MN Interfaith Power & Light and MPIRG to deliver Clean Power Plan comments to Governor Dayton on Friday, Nov. 21.
Despite many being under the legal voting age, a contingent of high school youth gathered at Governor Dayton’s office on Friday November 21st to deliver over 1,000 public comments and photo petitions in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan before the December 1 comment deadline. The students, part of the Will Steger Foundation’s YEA! MN high school program, joined MPIRG and Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light to thank Governor Dayton for his clean energy leadership and urge him to keep Minnesota on track for further carbon reductions as required by the Clean Power Plan.
The symbolic gesture demonstrated the students’ strong concern about the impacts that climate change will have on their generation, and their support of increased clean energy.
“It’s clear to me that my generation believes that moving towards clean and renewable energy is the right choice,” said YEA! MN student Kumar Flower Kay at DeLaSalle High School in Minneapolis. “We just need the help from our current leaders to make it happen.”
Under Governor Dayton’s leadership, Minnesota has ramped up its clean energy generation, quadrupling clean energy’s share of Minnesota’s power since 2000 to 16 percent. The state now employs over 15,000 in clean energy jobs, according to a recent report by the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and that number is only expected to grow after last year’s passage of a solar mandate. While this progress is a positive step, those gathered at the petition delivery recognized that more could be done to tackle climate change in Minnesota.
The proposed EPA rule sets a target of cutting national emissions 30 percent by 2030, and would call for Minnesota, as a lead state, to cut its emissions 41 percent in that time. However, the state is currently on track to see a three percent reduction by then, according to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), demonstrating that more action is needed.
“As a member of the millennial generation, I can assertively say that young people are looking for real concrete action to resolve our society’s addiction to fossil fuels,” said Erik Hatlestad, an MPIRG organizer. “The Clean Power Plan gives us, as a nation, an opportunity to turn to renewable energy to meet these federal goals and benefit our economy as well as our planet.”
A member of the Governor’s staff received the postcards and petition from the different organizations. He asked each participant to share why they thought the Clean Power Plan was important. He thanked them for their dedication to the issue, and discussed examples of the Governor’s past work to promote clean energy.
In addition to public comments, the participants presented Governor Dayton’s representative with photo petitions of supporters holding posters with the hashtag #ActOnClimate to deliver to the Governor. These images were the product of a Regional Week of Action organized by RE-AMP, an energy and climate policy network of 160 non-profits and foundations across eight Midwestern states.
In order to spur more citizen engagement during the public comment period for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which ends December 1, RE-AMP members held climate change and energy-related events, forums, and social media discussions across the Midwest throughout the week of November 17-21.
“We recognize that youth will inherit the unparalleled impacts of climate change and are among our most powerful advocates,” said Nicole Rom, Executive Director of the Will Steger Foundation. “Youth from across Minnesota, and the Midwest are part of a groundswell of action, pushing our leaders for strong action on climate. Minnesota has already taken great steps forward with our renewable energy and energy efficiency laws, but we have even more to do to reduce our carbon emissions and create a better future.”