By: Kayla Grover
Communities came together on April 6th as Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) launched their Environmental Justice campaign with an organizing meeting. The subjects of discussion involved the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and the Hennepin Energy Recovery Center (commonly referred to as the HERC Incinerator). The HERC Incinerator burns trash, converting our waste into electricity. While some benefit from this cheap source of energy, others must breathe the air such incinerators pollute.
North Minneapolis has long suffered from the detrimental consequences of being located at the epicenter of multiple sources of pollution. Prior to the meeting, canvassers gathered data from area residents and found disturbing results. “99% of households we surveyed knew of at least one person in that household who had asthma; in some households there were more than one,” stated one canvasser. In addition, those suffering from asthma are often low-income people of color, a situation that many at the meeting openly named as environmental racism.
We should all be deeply concerned with a system that forces some communities to carry such a disproportionate burden from our energy consumption. The HERC/Clean Power Plan coalition, including the Sierra Club, NOC, MPIRG, Community Power, health professionals, faith leaders, neighborhood organizations, and others, see the implementation of the CPP as an ideal time to address these inequities and work for healthy, prosperous communities. The vision for Environmental Justice in Minneapolis is focused on the future. The coalition is currently working to ensure that incinerators such as HERC are not considered positive “credits” in the CPP. As it stands now, garbage incinerators can be classified as a form of renewable energy. The message sent at this meeting was clear: Minnesotans are working towards a racially and economically just CPP. A Clean Power Plan should bring benefit to everyone, and community members working for Environmental Justice will do everything they can to make those benefits a reality.
Come support a racially and economically just Clean Power Plan at a special Earth Day Concert on Friday, April 22, 6-10pm at Honey, 205 E Hennepin Ave, Minneapolis.
Kayla Grover is a Green Transportation intern and a student at Augsburg College in the Urban Studies program.