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Minneapolis Environmental Commission Urges Green Zones and City Action to Eliminate Racial Disparities

To mark the 20th Anniversary of the of the Environmental Justice Presidential Executive Order, the Minneapolis Community Environmental Advisory Commission (CEAC) is urging the Mayor and City Council to eliminate the persistent, disproportionate environmental risks experienced by low-income and residents of color in Minneapolis. CEED’s Shalini Gupta and other environmental justice leaders and allies that sit on CEAC recommended five near term actions below (Read the full CEAC Letter on Environmental Justice and see a CEED Factsheet on Green Zones):

(1) Establish a comprehensive Green Zone Initiative, as outlined in the Minneapolis Climate Action Plan (Buildings and Energy Section, Cross-Cutting Strategy 1). The goal of Green Zones is to target public and private investment in neighborhoods with the highest levels of pollution and environmental degradation—where people have been exposed to the toxic effects of pollutants from heavy industry, factories, and busy highways. These neighborhoods should be the first in line for much-needed local, state and federal resources for parks, community gardens, energy-efficiency, renewable energy and “green” small business entrepreneurship.

(2) Commit resources for green infrastructure planning and community preparedness during extreme weather/flooding in the most at risk Minneapolis communities – particularly those located near existing industrial and contaminated sites where toxic migration from flooding will be a critical issue. The need for this has been made clear with the recent flooding of North Minneapolis, and will only be more critical as extreme weather events increase in Minneapolis with the onset of climate change.

(3) Engage the Metropolitan Council, Hennepin County and state agencies/policy makers to ensure environmental justice is imbedded in the goals and strategies of plans, policies and projects impacting Minneapolis residents. This includes, but is not limited to, the development of the Minneapolis Comprehensive Planning process and working to expand the cumulative impacts policy — currently only in the Phillips neighborhood — to cover all of Minneapolis.

(4) Establish and fund a multi-year environmental justice micro-grants program for community projects related to community data gathering, grassroots sustainability projects, emergency preparedness, and community engagement.

(5) Ensure environmental justice is imbedded in the City’s sustainability indicators, and provide ongoing city data and monitoring support to measure racial equity as applied to the sustainability indicators.

Come to the next Minneapolis Community Environmental Advisory Commission meeting Thursday, March 13th, 3:30pm City Hall Room 132 – The Minneapolis Energy Pathways Study and the City’s long-term Climate Goals will be the topic of discussion.