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Author: sgupta

Environmental Justice Letter to Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) – This November 2013 letter urges MPCA to critically evaluate its policies, practices, rule-making and regulations in order to eliminate persisting environmental pollution and related health disparities. Issues around transparency, disparities, cumulative impacts, meaningful involvement, Tribal Nations/communities, and the Plan EJ 2014 are highlighted. See more CEED publications here.

Climate Inequality – Forgotten History. This CEED report finds extreme inequality in terms of who contributes to climate change and who benefits from greenhouse gas intensive development patterns. It links the eradication of the Indigenous commons in the U.S., housing and agricultural policy to the same market-based philosophy underlying the industrial world’s approach to solving climate change – concluding that long-lasting solutions to climate change must inherently be equitable in order to be sustainable. See more CEED publications here.

In order to put environmental justice on the forefront of any revisions planned for the Minnesota Environmental Assessment Worksheets (EAW) and other environmental review documents, CEED submitted comments to the Environmental Quality Board. As they plan for their revisions, we are urging them to (1) Integrate A Robust Environmental Justice Analysis Procedure by Incorporating the EPA’s Draft “Technical Guidance For Assessing Environmental Justice In Regulatory Analysis”; (2) Develop a Meaningful Process for Environmental Justice Communities’ Engagement in Rule-making and the Environmental Review Process; (3) Utilize up-to-date data; and (4) Revise pollution thresholds in the context of climate change.

 

On June 28th, 2013, the Minneapolis City Council approved the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan (MCAP), which included key environmental justice recommendations. A landmark achievement occurred when Environmental Justice representation on the Steering Committee and the formation of an Environmental Justice Working Group (EJWG) was added to the City’s climate planning process, after a year-long organizing effort.

CEED’s Director of Research Programs, Dr. Cecilia Martinez served on the Steering Committee, and Executive Director Shalini Gupta facilitated the EJWG and its policy recommendations, along with the core leadership team of Lea Foushee (North American Water Office) and Sam Grant (Afro Eco). The EJWG held several meetings which included a diversity of representation, from across Minneapolis neighborhoods and communities. The MCAP environmental justice recommendations are guided by climate justice principles, which seek to address racial, social and economic disparities, and promote a more equitable and just process for future climate planning. The EJWG engaged in a rigorous scrutiny of recommended strategies proposed by the three other Working Groups (Buildings & Energy, Transportation & Land Use, and Waste & Recycling) and provided critical modifications to move the plan toward a more inclusive and equitable set of strategies. Through our work on the Minneapolis Community Environmental Advisory Commission, we will monitor the list of priorities from the Climate Action Plan being developed by the Office of Sustainability, as well as theEnergy Vision and Pathways Study the City has just commenced. Our goal is to advocate for broader community input and inclusion of racial and economic equity/justice indicators in the City’s environmental planning.

In conjunction with CEED’s efforts to inform policy makers to address environmental justice in climate action plans, CEED continues with its efforts at the State level where in March of this year Executive Director Shalini Gupta spoke on the Climate Panel at the Environmental Quality Board’s Minnesota Environmental Congress. CEED also met with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Stine and several staff to discuss how to implement environmental justice into state regulatory processes.

CEED was honored to host Bill Gallegos and Chief Justice Emeritus Robert Yazzie this Spring in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Bill Gallegos is the Executive Director of Communities for a Better Environment in California (CBE), an environmental justice organization that works in the communities of Oakland, Los Angeles, Wilmington and Riverside areas of California. Mr. Gallegos spoke at the Parkway Theater in Minneapolis, sharing his experience on how CBE and the California Environmental Justice Alliance successfully fought Chevron and won a major battle to stop the expansion of tar sands oil refinement in their communities. He also shared how they are continuing to fight for racial and economic justice in solar and climate change policies in the state. As part of his visit, Twin Cities indigenous and communities of color activists also met with Mr. Gallegos to dialogue around environmental justice issues and alliance building here in the Twin Cities. CEED would like to thank Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli, the Zenteotl Project and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs at the University of Minnesota for co-sponsoring Mr. Gallegos’ visit.Chief Justice Emeritus Robert Yazzie

As a part of CEED’s ongoing project,Community Restoration for Environmental Justice (CREJ), we hosted the Honorable Chief Justice Emeritus Robert Yazzie for two days in the Twin Cities. The Honorable Robert Yazzie is the former the Director of the Diné Policy Institute at Diné College. He shared his wisdom about traditional indigenous justice and governance to a full room of activists, students, academics, attorneys and community members at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. He also presented on Diné (Navajo) philosophy on the environment, and how he has been working to codify these perspectives into policy. CEED staff had an intensive full day workshop with Justice Yazzie. In his presentations, he offered a poignant analysis of how Diné traditions address environmental harms, and the principles around which we can begin to understand and institutionalize the redress of these harms. In addition to his presentations, he visited with community members at the Minneapolis American Indian Center, and met with students at the Center of Indigenous Nations (COIN) at the University of Minnesota. We would like to thank Dr. Clint Carroll, COIN, the American Indian Studies Department at the University of Minnesota, and the Zenteotl Project for co-sponsoring the Honorable Yazzie’s visit to the Twin Cities. CEED is very excited to continue our work together.Our CREJ project also hosted a community dialogue with Native community members including elders, youth, educators, and environmental and food advocates to talk and share about our pressing environmental problems and how we can address these using Indigenous knowledge and practice. Stay tuned for future plans!