MN pollution control officials review community input on Clean Power Plan

Listening sessions used to collects common energy concerns across the state

Karen Monahan
Karen Monahan

 

 

conclusion redThe Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) over the past several months conducted community listening sessions around the state on the federal government’s proposed clean power plan.

“We have been working closely with the PCA,” notes local environmental justice organizer Karen Monahan of MPCA officials, who recently compiled community residents’ comments and concerns under “common themes.” Following are excerpts from these sessions:

  • Ensure that health impacts from co-pollutants and also from climate change are adequately factored into any plan: “Asthma, COPD, cardiopulmonary impacts — these disproportionately impact the poor, the young [and] the old.” (Minneapolis)
  • Don’t underestimate the effect of job losses…for families or communities: “The Clean Power Plan will create winners and losers. We need to think about preserving current energy sector jobs.” (St. Cloud)
  • Maximize greenhouse gas emissions reductions and move as quickly as possible to minimize climate impacts: “I’m not getting enough of a sense of urgency.” (Rochester)
  • Factor in externality costs when determining acceptable versus unacceptable costs: “Make clear the costs of health care and co-benefits of action.” (Bemidji)
  • Make sure any Clean Power Plan legitimately considers environmental justice — both in terms of the cumulative effects of pollution and in terms of the potential benefits the plan can produce: “Communities of color have been marginalized by the federal and state process. An equity analysis is critical.” (St. Paul)
  • Consider the impacts on reliability and electric bills: “Don’t oversimplify — consider when and how electricity is used.” (Bemidji)
  • Renewable energy is cheap and provides significant opportunities for job growth and economic growth in Minnesota: “Every state should be looking at this. Keep in mind that jobs created…are local jobs.” (Minneapolis)
 David Thonnton
David Thonnton Charles Hallman/MSR News)

MPCA Assistant Commissioner David Thornnon says, “We don’t have any specific plans on [future] listening sessions. But we certainly are expecting to have more.”

“The MPCA is very receptive on hearing the concerns and I think it is important that the issues are being heard and being considered. I’m very excited to see what happens from future [listening] sessions,” adds Sierra Club Environmental Justice State Coordinator Sharonda Williams-Tack.

“We may not get all of what we want, and it may not be perfect because there are a lot of stakeholders and other folk,” says Monahan. “But I think it’s time we start working together and go as far as we can with state agencies, elected officials and if we can’t go anymore, we have the community to turn up the heat. But this is our approach for now.”

 

Charles Hallman welcomes reader responses to challman@spokesman-recorder.com.