Skip to content

Author: chico

The Minnesota State House panel voted earlier this week to repeal the moratorium on new nuclear power generation. While there is little chance this bill will be enacted into law in its current form, it demonstrates a lack of concern for the health and well being of all Minnesotans. The House panel vote follows the passage of a similar bill in the Senate.

Presented as a “clean” energy option, the Minnesota legislature is ignoring the realities of producing electricity using a highly toxic and radioactive material which poses a threat to communities in all stages of mining, processing and waste disposal.

The state moratorium was implemented in 1994 because of the lack of real solutions to these critical concerns – concerns that remain largely unresolved. The high economic cost of nuclear energy should also give us pause. Minnesota has long been a leader in energy alternatives and should instead be directing these investments into more cost-effective solutions that would benefit the local economy – such as energy efficiency, wind, bio-based fuels and solar. Real clean energy options and conservation offer all Minnesotans alternatives that are renewable and safe today and for the future. And importantly, these energy sources can also create many more jobs here in Minnesota, benefiting the state and local economies.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy supported the moratorium when it was passed in 1994. Proponents of lifting the moratorium declare that this does not necessarily mean new nuclear plants will be built, but there is no doubt that this is the first – critical – step in this high risk cycle of energy production. We look to the legislature to demonstrate common sense and stop the drive to allow expansion of nuclear power in Minnesota.

Stay tuned for a webinar series the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy at IATP is organizing on nuclear energy scheduled to begin in March.

Shalini Gupta

In a letter sent to Congress and the Obama administration last month, leading voices in environmental justice, science and academics asked that: “1) the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) authority to regulate greenhouse gases (GHGs) should not be overturned or diminished; and 2) climate change policy should address the emissions of greenhouse gas co-pollutants, as well as the emissions of greenhouse gases themselves.”

The same facilities and vehicles that emit greenhouse gases also emit co-pollutants that lead to high rates of asthma and other serious public health concerns. In addition to the public health impacts associated with climate change itself, co-pollutants from coal plants and other fossil fuel sources disproportionately affect low-income communities and communities of color as these communities are largely located where fossil fuel facilities are located and where urban vehicle emissions are concentrated. This unique partnership of leading environmental justice activists, policy analysts, scientists and academics is the first of its kind.

While Congress has rejected initial attempts to undermine the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions for public health reasons, additional attempts to challenge EPA’s authority are expected. Shalini Gupta, director of the Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy at IATP, was among the 18 leaders who signed onto the letter. To find out more, read the press release and full letter.

—Shalini Gupta

On Tuesday night, IATP’s Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy (CEED) hosted an event in Minneapolis that connected the need for climate justice in Cancún with local grassroots environmental justice efforts. It was part of the “1000 Cancun’s”, a day of climate justice action around the world. The event included a local EJ panel as well as a live report back from three members of the National (U.S.) Environmental Justice Leadership Forum on Climate Change. The event was filmed and webcast by The UpTake and a video is available below (in English). Pictures from the event are also available on IATP’s Flickr page. You can follow the EJ delegates blogging from Cancun on our blog page, Think Forward.

The event begins at the 8-minute mark below, with the speakers entering as follows:

Shalini Gupta, IATP, introduction: 8:00

Cochabamba People’s Climate Summit video: 12:26

LeMoine LePointe, advisory board of IATP’s Center for Earth, Energy and Democracy: 24:43

Reginaldo Haslett-Marroquin, Rural Enterprise Center: 35:08

Veronica Burt, Just Equity: 44:27

Deborah Ramos, Zenteotl Project: 54:11

Liza O’Reilly, Zenteotl Project: 1:01:10

Question and Answer: 1:06:00

Call-in reports from Cancún (Cecilia Martinez, Michele Roberts and Jose Bravo): 1:09:32