Community Power and No HERC Expansion

by Karen Monahan, Environmental Justice Organizer

February 11, 2014 is the 20th anniversary of Executive Order 12898, “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations”. Hennepin County’s decision to withdraw their proposal to increase the capacity of the HERC incinerator by 20%, which is equivalent to burning 1,200 tons of trash per day, was confirmed with the County Board vote on this day.

Over 48 percent of the community surrounding the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (HERC) are people of color. According to the Energy Justice Network, HERC has the 3rd worst racial discrimination ratio for incinerators in the United States. The same zip code the HERC facility is in has some of the highest asthma rates in the state of Minnesota; asthma is the number one reason students miss school. They also have the worst achievement gap and highest unemployment disparity between blacks and whites in the country. How much injustice can one community face? This decision to withdraw the proposal for the expansion is a beacon of hope, a step in the right direction.


The decision was not handed to us; we worked for it. It took organizing and persistence from our community and allies. In 2010 Hennepin county put forward this proposal. There have been folks organizing and educating the community for four years. We were able to bring students, faith based, environmental, neighborhood and social justice groups together to form a coalition to stop the expansion.

We still have more work to do. We would like to see zero waste policies, more composting and recycling implemented. It is time to look at options to phase out garbage burning that pollutes our community. But today, I will celebrate justice.

I am honored to stand on the shoulders of those who proceeded me and I am honored to stand shoulder to shoulder with my community and allies as we celebrate this victory. My hope is that every child, regardless of the color of their skin or their economic situation, will breathe clean air and have access to safe water and land. There is a Native American proverb that hangs in my office that inspires me, and I hope it will inspire you, “When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned, only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”


One response to “Community Power and No HERC Expansion

  1. Prova un nuovo browser con traduzione automatica.Scarica Google ChromeIgnora
    Dear people of Minnesota I know that thanks to the Italian TV minnesota viking share your protest against incinerator Herc . I inform you that in my city there is neither one that has sickened many people in my former sopprattutto quartiere.L ‘ incinerator is located in the town of Desio in the province of Monza …. our good politicians of both sides if they are ripped off people for more than thirty years as much ash and poison fell on the poor ! Two people in my former neighbors are finite, died with a brain tumor and her husband semi peralizzato because of un’ictus . Another family is finished with fertility problems or completely sterili.Per my family instead fate did not we ended up with was better drugs for various forms of depression as other groups of families quartiere.La thing that makes me most angry is that we had all the diseased nervous system and the mayors that have taken place , no year did nothing … year … now i put a filtration system flue gas , after we had already gone their separate collection for a decade ….. and now that greatly diminish the packaging to burn the same ! ? After the damage or insult Bye Bye David
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