Youth should fight for a strong and just Clean Power Plan

With the Clean Power Plan, Minnesota has an opportunity and a responsibility to meet the growing challenges of climate change and inequity that face our generation.
 
 
I recently co-organized and attended a youth summit with Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, where I supported a racially and economically just Clean Power Plan for our state. 
 
 
While Minnesota’s renewable energy use has outperformed much of the country, there are persistent disparities and growing inequalities facing people of color, low-income people and rural communities. 
 
 
Youth know the just transition to a clean-energy future is essential to build lasting economic stability and community resilience. As proven during our Youth Lobby Day, young people are looking for a more equitable and just Clean Power Plan for all Minnesotans. This includes a plan that,  first, speeds the advancement of clean energy in Minnesota so that we reach a 100-percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050. 
 
 
Second, it incentivizes clean energy projects that are affordable and accessible to all, through mechanisms such as community solar gardens. 
 
 
Third, it includes community participation in all stages of decision-making.
 
 
Fourth, the plan takes into account the legacy of environmental racism. 
 
 
And fifth, it does not include waste-burning as a clean energy option.
 
 
As we invest in solutions like energy efficiency, we will create more jobs in manufacturing, designing and installing these solutions. Minnesota’s leaders should look at how to ensure those who have historically been left out of economic growth have opportunities to thrive.
 
 
The state has made real progress and is well-positioned to meet the goals of the Clean Power Plan, but much more is needed. The solutions exist. 
 
 
Real solutions include actual participation from communities that have previously been left out of environmental conversations. It is promising to note that the governor and others are finding ways to change this past inequity. Still, the question remains: Will these communities be a part of the decision-making process, or will our elected leaders continue to underrepresent us?
 
 
As youth, we are invested in a racially and economically just Clean Power Plan that will benefit all Minnesotans.
 
 
Kyra Brown
Co-Chair, Minnesota Public Research Interest Group 
University student