September 16, 2023
From Fight Back News

Steff Yorek of the Climate Justice Committee demands accountability from the Min

Steff Yorek of the Climate Justice Committee demands accountability from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
(Fight Back! News/staff)

St. Paul, MN – The Climate Justice Committee and allies held a press conference at Metro State University to hold the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) accountable as they start the three year rulemaking process for a new cumulative impacts law passed in Minnesota in 2023. This cumulative impacts law would not just take into account air pollution from one business at a particular site but would look at the cumulative impacts of pollution in the area and make permitting decisions based on historic pollution and how the community in the area has already been impacted.

The MPCA is responsible for permitting all businesses that have an impact of soil, water and air pollution and was responsible for the permitting of Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline.

At this event, the CJC showed up to hold MPCA accountable for its current and future actions around the issue of air pollution.

“Why is the MPCA not working harder to outreach to the communities they say they want to protect, like East Phillips. I am a student at Metro State, and I wouldn’t have known this event was happening if the CJC hadn’t done this event. We see this as another time when communities like East Phillips in Minneapolis will be let down by legislation that could benefit them. It’s time to end half-measures and leniency for people who poison us!” said Mordecai Mika of the Climate Justice Committee.

Mair Allen from the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy stated, “I’ve lived in East Phillips for 13 years, and I think about my 11-year-old neighbor who died in his house of an asthma attack. And I think about the people who can leave their windows open and can walk around their neighborhoods without coughing; everyone benefits from the environment, but those benefits are uneven. There is no such thing as a ‘community benefit’, it’s not possible to benefit from not having pollution. We shouldn’t have to fight for clean air.” Mair was referring to one part of the legislation that includes making “community benefit” agreements with businesses that would be legally binding.

Climate Justice Committee members and supporters then went into the MPCA meeting to ask questions. The MPCA had intended to only take written comments, but CJC members and other community members forced the MPCA representatives to listen to comments. Several audience members talked about the current lack of community outreach and in particular the lack of indigenous input. Others pointed out the distrust of the MPCA because of its history permitting Line 3. MPCA now knows that the community is watching and will be there to force them to do the right thing and get polluters out of our neighborhoods.