Last Thursday, college and high school students descended on the Capitol in St. Paul to rally for a Clean Cars standard allowing Minnesota to use California's increased vehicle fuel efficiency standard for the state. Joined by visionary green economy leader Van Jones for a rally at the State Capitol, they also rallied for important increases in weatherization programs that will help spur green jobs creation, and a Sustainable Communities Act that will help local communities take charge of their own energy future. The Will Steger Foundation, an organizational ally of our college state network TEAM Minnesota and our high school state network YEA Minnesota, produced the attached YouTube video of the event.
Here in Minnesota, young people are having increasing clout within the already-strong networks of traditional environmental organizations, who invited us to join in this Clean Cars lobby day. Young people are also helping spear-head a broader focus for this movementy, one that focuses on green job creation, empowering citizen action for sustainable communities, and creating incentives and support structures for community ownership of efficiency, clean energy, and other opportunities in the green economy. An emerging partner in this vision is the HIRE Coalition (Healthcare, Infrastructure, and Renewable Energy), an alliance of low-income, minority, and community development groups focused on ensuring that the benefits of the stimulus package go to their communities, and that people from all race and class backgrounds are included as leaders in the emergence of a new green economy.
Like many other places across the country, the moment is perfect in Minnesota: we are fourth nationwide in wind energy production - the national leader for community-owned wind energy, and have excellent opportunities for energy efficiency in our built environment, green industry in our weakened urban zones, and rural revitalization through sustainable agriculture, ecological biofuels (prairie based), and wind. The proposed BigStone 2 powerplant in eastern South Dakota that would have fed the Twin Cities is facing rising obstacles posed by the US EPA, and federal stimulus funds are poised to revitalize weatherization programs in the state. This Minnesota lobby day came right on the heels of PowerShift, with many youth leaders returning via epic 22-hour bus rides Tuesday mid-day and heading right back out to the State Capital early on Thursday morning. The timing is perfect - look forward to more updates for Minnesota progress as we prep the landscape for The Summer of Solutions.