Focusing on clean power protects our planet, our health

according_to_usThe description of our role as Urban Heat Island Intern states, “as an environmentalist, we have to consider the trade-offs in order to reduce pollution, which disproportionately affects marginalized communities.” When it comes to the Clean Power Plan, we must remind ourselves that by advocating for cleaner air, we are simply advocating for the preservation of human life and human rights.

We are here today as spokespeople for younger generations. While we cannot claim that we are representative of every young person in Minnesota or the United States, we can say that we do not want to live in a world where the decisions made today are ones that we cannot overcome in the future due to lack of will or progressive movement.

Minnesota has a rich history of being ahead of the curve when it comes to implementing environmental policy, which results in pollution reduction. But it didn’t happen on its own; it happened because groups came together and organized to make this a reality.

We encourage Minnesotans to look at the impressive strides we have already taken to reduce pollution in our communities. In doing so, we hope we will not only continue to embrace positive change, but also be encouraged to continue this trajectory and raise the bar in order to reduce more pollution from pollutions plants all across the state. Continuing to raise the bar and reduce pollution is necessary in order to live a healthy life today and for future generations.

As young adults there is a grave responsibility to take interest and action in the state of our environment. We feel it is our responsibility to provide a sustainable environment not only for the world we live in now, but also for our future. In reviewing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, it is important that we consider how we produce energy along with the impacts it has on our communities’ health and pocket books.

We are at a critical moment to make a choice between continuing to pollute and harm our health and climate, or finally take a leap forward in our transition to clean energy that slows climate change and benefits all communities. Our health, climate and environment are inextricably linked, and the science and technology is readily available to help us make the right choices.

We are advocates for environmental justice who have actively worked on the first ever federal carbon standard. Obama’s Clean Power Plan and the EPA have introduced and finalized this carbon rule, which is a great step forward. The Clean Power Plan benefits our health and our planet. Looking at our food source, air quality, and water quality around the world, it is clear we need immediate solutions if we are going to correct the damage done to these resources our planet provides in order to sustain life.

The authors of this column are a group of college student interns with the Minnesota Science Museum, Urban Heat Island (UHI) Project, which is a program at the Kitty Andersen Youth Science Center. Using our unique disciplines, we will focus on issues surrounding policy, environmental health, geography, as well as agriculture in relation to the impacts on underrepresented communities.

In this way, we hope to share knowledge with various communities as well as provide individuals with solutions to help reduce their personal impacts on our planet.


If you have questions or would like to get involved in advocacy around environmental justice and the Clean Power Plan, please contact Karen Monahan at

Shiranthi Goonathilaka, Cynthia Harris, and Josh Stewart are interns with the Minnesota Science Museum, Urban Heat Island Project.  

Retated content: MSR introduces new environmental justice column: According to us, Clean Power.