Karen Monahan

Recent Articles

Surprise! Climate change is real

Why Minnesota communities of color should take action








By Karen Monahan and Nikki Silverstri

Guest Commentators


This week, the White House released the National Climate Assessment (NCA) — a federal analysis that finds what we know to be true. Climate change is real. It is damaging neighborhoods across the country. Minnesota is feeling the impact. During the heat wave of July 2011, the Twin Cities experienced an all-time high dew point of 82°F that when combined with an air temperature of 95°F created a heat index of nearly 119°F! Continue Reading →

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Communities of color bear the brunt of environmental hazards

By Charles Hallman

Staff Writer


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June will announce a new “carbon rule.” The “common-sense” rule involves updating toxic air pollution standards, including new monitoring requirements for petroleum refineries of benzene, which can cause respiratory problems and other health concerns, and requiring updating of emissions from storage tanks, how gases are destroyed. EPA officials say if implemented the proposal could reduce toxic air emissions by 5,600 tons per year. Karen Monahan, a local environmental justice advocate, says the public comment period opens June 2. She helped organize the May 15 environmental forum at Kwanzaa Community Church, and told the packed room that everyone must let both the EPA and Washington lawmakers know that this rule is very important and should be fully supported. “We want to make sure it is a just carbon rule,” she explained, “because we know that communities of color bear a disapportionate burden when it comes to climate pollution. Continue Reading →

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North Minneapolis celebrates Earth Day


People of color most impacted by negative actions in the environment


By Jamal Denman

Contributing Writer



On Saturday, April 27, Environmental Justice Advocates of Minnesota (EJAM) and the Minneapolis chapter of the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program played host to an Earth Day Celebration, held at the Kwanzaa Community Church in North Minneapolis. The event was an opportunity for the community to hear about how the treatment of the environment has an impact on their daily lives while enjoying some food, entertainment, and being in each other’s company. “It’s a celebration. It’s about bringing all kinds of different folks together to share information, to begin building authentic relationships, and to celebrate our connection to each other and our connection to the earth,” said Sierra Club Environmental Justice Organizer Karen Monahan. While many people like Monahan who are passionately involved in environmental justice believe the movement is gaining momentum, they feel that more work still needs to be done. Continue Reading →

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Waste disposal poses pollution threat to Northsiders






News Analysis

By Lissa Jones

Contributing Writer


Proposals are currently under consideration to significantly increase emissions from Minneapolis polluters that have a disproportionate impact on low-income communities of color such as those in Phillips and on the North Side. On April 3, several community organizations sponsored a “Reality Check” on air and water pollution at Kwanzaa Community Church to discuss the potential impact of the proposed increases on the health of these neighborhoods and the people who live there. The event flyer invited the community to “hear about the status of Northern Metals and HERC (the garbage burner) in North Minneapolis and how their emissions may impact your health.” About 25 people were in attendance, including State Representatives Karen Clark and Joe Mullery, as the panel presented their findings and concerns to the group.  




The panelists were Jeff Skrenes of the Hawthorne Community Council; Lea Foushee, environmental justice director with the North American Water Office, a nonprofit organization chartered in 1982 to educate people about solutions to environmental problems; Lara Norkus-Crampton, a nurse, garbage burner activist, and former planning commissioner for the City of Minneapolis; and Beverly Propes, a public health nurse. Their presentations covered the status of the legal work on Northern Metals; examined the correlation between the pollution emissions and health outcomes for children attending school in the affected neighborhoods; reviewed studies from across the world detailing the health effects of pollution emissions on communities with incinerators; and looking at alternative solutions through the lens of a community organizer. Continue Reading →

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